The U.S. Air Force said on Monday it had conducted a successful test of a hypersonic weapon, which flew at five times the speed of sound.
The test was conducted on Saturday off the coast of Southern California when a B-52 bomber released an Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW), the Air Force said in a statement.
“Following separation from the aircraft, the ARRW’s booster ignited and burned for expected duration, achieving hypersonic speeds five times greater than the speed of sound,” it said.
The United States is not alone in developing hypersonic weapons, whose speed and maneuverability make them difficult to track and intercept.
Russia has fired hypersonic missiles at targets in Ukraine and China has tested hypersonic weapons, U.S. military officials have said. China’s foreign ministry denied in October that it had conducted a weapons test.
Washington is concerned about hypersonic missile technology and its potential military applications by China and Russia, a U.S. arms control official said on Monday, after a media report that Beijing had tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic glide weapon.
“Following separation from the aircraft, the ARRW’s booster ignited and burned for expected duration,
achieving hypersonic speeds five times greater than the speed of sound.”
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Hypersonic weapons are usually defined as missiles that fly more than five times the speed of sound, and a race is under way for the next generation of long-range weapons that are harder to detect and intercept.
The United States and Russia have both tested hypersonic weapons but U.S. disarmament ambassador Robert Wood said that Washington had concerns about their possible use.
U.S. defenses are not capable of combating a large-scale attack from China or Russia, which could overwhelm the system. But the open U.S. pursuit of more and more advanced missile defenses has led Moscow and Beijing to examine ways to defeat them, experts say, including hypersonic and, apparently, fractional orbital bombardment.
The United States and Russia have both tested hypersonic weapons.
Reuters with additional input by GVS News Desk