The Army yesterday carried out its first test flight of a hypersonic missile that has a worldwide range.
The Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW) was launched at 6:30 am EST from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii on a three-stage booster system.
It then glided to the Reagan Test Site on the Kwajalein Atoll, 2,300 miles away, reaching it just half an hour later. That gives it an average speed of 4,800 miles per hour. AHW can travel at five times the speed of sound.
"The objective of the test is to collect data on hypersonic boost-glide technologies and test range performance for long-range atmospheric flight," says the Department of Defense.
The main aim of the test was to evaluate aerodynamics, navigation, guidance and control, along with thermal protection technologies.
"Space, air, sea, and ground platforms collected vehicle performance data during all phases of flight," deys the department.
"The data collected will be used by the Department of Defense to model and develop future hypersonic boost-glide capabilities."
The Advanced Hypersonic Weapon is being developed as part of the Conventional Prompt Global Strike program, aimed at creating a weapons system that can strike anywhere in the world in less than an hour.
Last time the US tested a hypersonic craft, the Falcon HTV-2, it crashed into the ocean - although this didn't stop DARPA hailing the flight as a success.