This article was originally published in Global Security Newswire, produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.
The U.S. Army will test missile technology on Wednesday that could eventually be incorporated into a conventional "prompt global strike" weapon, according to Defense Department officials.
Army Space and Missile Defense Command and Army Forces Strategic Command will conduct a flight test of the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon, which is to use an advanced-technology glide body built to endure high-speed flight in the upper atmosphere en route to a target.
"This test is designed to collect data on hypersonic boost-glide technologies and test-range performance for long-range atmospheric flight," Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Melinda Morgan told Global Security Newswire last week by e-mail.
The test scenario will focus on "flight performance of aerodynamics; navigation, guidance, and control; and thermal protection technologies," she said
The test vehicle is slated to be launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, and is to fly to the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site, located more than 2,000 miles southwest on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
The launch had been slated to take place on Tuesday but was delayed one day "due to scheduling conflicts with other events in the Pacific," according to Morgan, who did not elaborate.
The Defense Department will use data gleaned from the test to develop future capabilities for conventional prompt global strike, she told GSN.
The Pentagon wants to develop nonnuclear, prompt-strike capability to attack a target anywhere around the world with just an hour's notice. This type of weapon might be used in the event that U.S. naval vessels or land-based aircraft are not located close enough to strike a target under urgent conditions, such as an impending North Korean missile launch.
AHW technologies, if proven successful, might be incorporated into the Air Force Conventional Strike Missile, which could be the first such prompt-attack capability to be fielded.