Sunday, March 3, 2024

The hypersonic missile that flies at 6,000 km/h has become a headache for the US

The United States is reconsidering for the eleventh time its test strategy for the long-range hypersonic weapon, the Dark Eagle, after many difficulties and delays. In fact, the missiles are scheduled to be operational next summer.

And several Dark Eagle flight tests have been canceled, the most recent one scheduled for October 26. Now, officials are building a new strategy.

Undersecretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Doug Bush told DefenseScoop that a “big meeting” took place last week. His Navy counterpart Frederick “Jay” Stefany, his military deputies and prime contractor Lockheed Martin participated in this meeting.

The Army and Navy are working together to develop hypersonic technology. “This is a joint program,” Bush explained in an interview at the Reagan National Defense Forum. “So myself, Mr. Stefany, the two three-star officers and Lockheed are working to find out exactly what happened and, at the same time, put together a new test schedule,” he emphasized .

The goal is to conduct more aggressive missile testing while the launcher problem is investigated. If there is full confidence in both, a test operation is scheduled using all the actual equipment.

Hypersonic weapons, designed to fly above Mach 5 and overcome enemy air defenses, are among the US Army’s top procurement priorities. The expensive Dark Eagle program is a key part of the Army’s long-range fires modernization portfolio. The United States’ competitors, China and Russia, are also pursuing hypersonics, and the Pentagon is trying to keep up.

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The Dark Eagle program, capable of reaching speeds of more than 6,000 km/h, was widely attended due to the Army’s need to advance quickly. Bush noted that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. However, he expressed confidence that they will find the problem once the teams are fully synchronized and integrated.

Testing the subcomponents will hopefully help build confidence before spending more money on another operational test. This will somewhat delay the process, but the hope is that a full operational test can be carried out in 2024 to allow continued deployment.

The initial goal is to have the system ready before the end of fiscal year 2023. Meanwhile, the Army is working on a separate long-range fires modernization effort known as the Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) program.

For the second development of the PrSM, the service plans to equip the system with a multi-function seeker that will allow the weapon to attack naval vessels. DefenseScoop asked Bush if, in the future, the Army could integrate that kind of technology into the Dark Eagle to give it anti-ship capabilities.

Although no decision has been made on the matter, Bush has indicated that they are considering working with the Navy to improve the Dark Eagle’s future blocks, especially the glide body.

If the weapon works properly and they feel safe with it, and the military decides that an anti-ship version is worth developing, it’s something they can do.

World Nation News Desk
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