A common hypersonic glide body (C-HGB) launches from Pacific Missile Range Facility during a Defense Department flight experiment, Kauai, Hawaii, March 19, 2020.
Credit: DoD

A common hypersonic glide body (C-HGB) test was conducted from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii on March 19.

The U.S. Navy and U.S. Army jointly executed the launch of, which flew at hypersonic speed to a designated impact point.

Also taking part in the experiment, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) monitored and gathered tracking data from the flight experiment to help in developing systems designed to defend against adversary hypersonic weapons.

This event is considered a major milestone towards the Department of Defense goal of fielding hypersonic warfighting capabilities in the early- to mid-2020s.

Next phase

“Today we validated our design and are now ready to move to the next phase towards fielding a hypersonic strike capability,” said Vice Adm. Johnny R. Wolfe, Director, Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs, which is the lead designer for the C-HGB.

The test built upon the successful Flight Experiment 1 in October 2017, in which the C-HGB achieved sustained hypersonic glide at its target distance, according to a Department of Defense (DoD) statement.

Hypersonic weapons, capable of flying at speeds greater than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5), are highly maneuverable and operate at varying altitudes.
Credit: DARPA

Strike range

Hypersonic weapons, capable of flying at speeds greater than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5), are highly maneuverable and operate at varying altitudes.

“This provides the warfighter with an ability to strike targets hundreds and even thousands of miles away, in a matter of minutes, to defeat a wide range of high-value targets. Delivering hypersonic weapons is one of the department’s highest technical research and engineering priorities,” the DoD statement explains.

The C-HGB – when fully fielded – will comprise the weapon’s conventional warhead, guidance system, cabling, and thermal protection shield. The Navy and Army are working closely with industry to develop the C-HGB. Each service will use the C-HGB, while developing individual weapon systems and launchers tailored for launch from sea or land.

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