The United States has successfully tested two Lockheed Martin hypersonic missiles this week, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.
The news comes after period of concern that the US could not keep up with China and Russia’s advances in missile development.
The US Air Force confirmed it successfully tested its Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) booster on Tuesday off the California coast.
And in an ARRW test earlier on Wednesday, the booster was carried aloft under the wing of a B-52H before it was launched. In previous tests, the weapon did not detach from the plane.
Air Force Brigadier-General Heath Collins, an executive officer with the Armament Directorate, said the US was now ready to start “all-up-round” testing later this year, that includes both the booster and a hypersonic warhead.
Hypersonic weapons travel in the upper atmosphere at more than five times the speed of sound, or about 6,200 km (3,853 miles) per hour.
In a separate weapons test, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) confirmed it successfully performed the first test of its Operational Fires hypersonic weapon – at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
The successful tests suggest the US is making greater headway in hypersonic weapons development, which was set back by a series of failed tests and led to questions about cost and increasing concern that the United States was falling behind in a key area of the global arms race.
Development of such weapons are expensive, and DARPA, developer of the Operational Fires weapon, has received $66.83 million for further advancement.
In May, Russia had succeeded in a long-range test of a hypersonic cruise missile. Investors are now starting to take interest in arms manufacturers such as Lockheed, as hypersonic weapons emerge as a new class of weaponry.
- Justin Hamlin with Reuters
Also on AF: