US conducted hypersonic missile test in mid-March, kept quiet due to escalating tensions with Russia

Reportedly this is the first fruitful test of the Lockheed Martin version of the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) that was fired through a B-52 bomber located on the west coast according to a source. The weapon was driven to incredible speed using a rocket before the motor was fired and shot at a hypersonic velocity of Mach 5.

The authorities gave few specifications about the test launch, saying that it flew at a height of over 65,000 feet and for more than 300 km. However, at 3,800 km per hour, a 300 km journey takes about 5 minutes, even at the lower end of the hypersonic spectrum.

The test comes soon after Russia claimed it launched its homegrown long-range missile to attack ammo storage in western Ukraine during its invasion of Ukraine.

US officials devalued the importance of the Russian application of the hypersonic Kinzhal missile. After the announcement of Russia regarding the rocket launch, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he didn’t think it was “some type of game-changer”. After a few days, the spokesman John Kirby claimed it was “difficult to determine about the justification” for the release, given that it was aimed at a static storage unit.

Following successful Russian and Chinese tests in recent months, the US has resumed its focus on hypersonic weapons, compounding concerns in Washington that the US is lagging behind on missile hardware deemed essential for the future.

The United States took a hit one month after the first successful HAWC test when a separate hypersonic system failed. The failure occurred days after allegations surfaced that China had already successfully carried the test on a hypersonic glide vehicle this summer. Just days after, Russia purported to have thoroughly tested its Tsirkon submarine-launched missile system.

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