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Army Hypersonic Test Vehicle Destroyed Following Failed Launch Test

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.