Washington: A hypersonic weapon prototype belonging to the US Army which travels at several times the speed of sound, has the capability to strike targets anywhere on Earth within an hour.
The weapon streaked across the Pacific Ocean successfully during its flawless maiden test flight on Nov 17.
The hypersonic weapon concept flew at a relatively flat trajectory within the atmosphere, rather than soaring up toward space like a ballistic missile and eventually came back down.
Hypersonic speed is defined as being at least five times the speed of sound (3,805 mph, or 6,124 kph, at sea level).
Pentagon’s research arm, called DARPA, had carried out two hypersonic test flights in April 2010 and August 2011, Fox News reported.
The Army’s Advanced Hypersonic Weapon launched aboard a three-stage booster system from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the island of Kauai in Hawaii, and deployed for its hypersonic glide, which eventually splashed down in the Reagan Test Site located near the Kwajalein Atoll.
Pentagon officials kept a careful watch on the flight test from space, air, sea and ground, which allowed them to collect data about aerodynamics, navigation, guidance, and control performance, as well as thermal protection technologies meant to shrug off intense heat during hypersonic flight.
First Published: Friday, November 18, 2011, 13:30