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Army Hypersonic Test Vehicle Destroyed Following Failed Launch Test

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Artist's concept of a hypersonic vehicle. DARPA Photo

Artist’s concept of a hypersonic vehicle from 2011. DARPA Photo

The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command conducted a test of a new Conventional Prompt Global Strike (CPGS) weapon earlier today. However, the test did not go as planned and the Army was forced to destroy the weapon prematurely.

“[The Army] conducted a flight test of the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon from the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska,” reads a statement released by the Defense Department.
“Due to an anomaly, the test was terminated near the launch pad shortly after lift-off to ensure public safety. There were no injuries to any personnel.”

According to the Pentagon, program officials are investigating what went wrong. The Defense Department’s CPGS program is an effort to develop a conventional non-nuclear weapon that can hit any point on the globe in less than an hour.


View Kodiak Launch Complex in a larger map

While previous efforts have focused on the development of conventionally-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), fears that the launch of such a weapon could be mistaken for a nuclear strike prompted the Pentagon to look at alternatives.

“This test, as with past flight tests, was designed to collect data on hypersonic boost-glide technologies and test-range performance for long-range atmospheric flight,” wrote Maureen Schumann, a spokeswoman for the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
“Data from the test was to be used by the Department of Defense to anchor ground testing, modeling, and simulation of hypersonic flight vehicle performance and is applicable to a range of possible Conventional Prompt Global Strike concepts.”

In pervious incarnations, CPGS was to be based on a conventionally-armed variant of the Trident II D5 submarine launched ballistic missile that forms for cornerstone of America’s sea-based nuclear deterrent.

  • NavySubNuke

    Hmmm guidance problem or a problem with the first stage thrust vector control/nozzles? Time will tell.

    • istealhondas

      im gonna go out on a limb here and say it was a guidance computer issue that originated near the kamchatka peninsula..

      • NavySubNuke

        agreed, nozzles and tvc are pretty easy to check, experimental guidance not so much.

  • Diogenes

    Is Army taking lead from Air Force in pre-empting Navy’s premier role in nuclear deterrence? Interesting revelation. Just curious NavySubNuke, but do you suppose a hypersonic delivery system still uses thrusters and fins and nozzles and all that good stuff?

    • Sam Riddle

      This all makes one scratch their heads and say “whaaaat”! After removing and destroying most of our ballistic missiles and going from boomers to trident and seawolfe, I might have just answered my own question, tridents took over boomers but theres so many fewer of them, does this mean this new missile will take over the trident program?

      • Ctrot

        No. This program is about conventional strike capability, not nuclear.

    • NavySubNuke

      no – this is a non-nuclear technology development effort. Air Force, Army, and Navy are all playing on this.
      Also, the missile was an old C-4 booster – the only new part being tested was the glide body on top which unfortunately blew up along with the booster but resulted in no data.

  • Sam Riddle

    This makes no sense, the Army is testing a new ballistic missile to go in to Ballistic Missile Submarines that are almost non existent now? Why is the Army designing ballistic missiles for the Navy?

    • Ctrot

      They’re not.

      • Steve C Scott

        Correct Sir!.US Navy 1974-1980.

        • Ctrot

          Thank you for your service! My father was US Navy 1943-1946, my oldest son is a USMCR LCPL.

  • CaptainParker

    Bring back the B-36. That was the only plane the Russians were ever afraid of.

    • Andrew Bradshaw

      OH you mean the plane that prompted Convair and Congress to collude and murder Col Glenn Edwards, sabotaging the XB-49 program? And the plane the Air Force Fighter pilots themselves volunteered to shoot down? It was a cool aircraft, “six turn’in, four burn’in”, but it was, despite its range, always a one-way ticket for bomber pilots, and they knew it. My late father(A WWII B-29 commander) trained on them. Hypersonic stuff is the new wave; I’ve been seeing that “Doughnut-on-a-rope” contrail, in daylight , over Los Angeles recently.