A missile test of the DARPA/US Air Force Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) program was destroyed during a test flight recently, US based Aviation Week reported.
US President Donald Trump has referred to the US hypersonic missile program during a May 16 White House ceremony unveiling the flag of the US Space Force as “I call it the super-duper missile.”
Significantly, Trump said “you’ve heard Russia has five times, and China is working on five or six times. We have one 17 times. And it’s just gotten the go-ahead.”
The ‘go-ahead’ the President was referring to could mean the HAWC program which ties in with reports of the subsequent HAWC missile carry test failure.
“The missile is believed to have inadvertently separated from a B-52 carrier aircraft during a captive-carry flight test,” Aviation Week reported quoting sources familiar with the evaluation which was carried out by the 419Flight Test Squadron at Edwards AFB, California. The date of the test has not been specified.
DARPA did not confirm nor deny the test. “Details of those flight demonstrations are classified,” a DARPA spokesman told Aerospace Daily.
The payload detached from the B-52 during a carry test; The test is meant to ensure the aircraft can take off and cruise with the missile in its underbelly. This is followed by a separation test and later the missile firing test.
The hypersonic missile mishap during the carry test could mean that all subsequent tests will be delayed until the cause of the inadvertent separation is found and fixed. The HAWC program is already behind schedule with its first flight planned for 2019. DARPA had selected Lockheed Martin in 2017 to develop a HAWC demonstrator powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne scramjet.
Earlier this week, Chinese state television reported the development of a scramjet engine that ran continuously for 600 seconds in a ground test which could lead up to the development of a hypersonic cruise missile.
Russia has raced ahead of both the US and China in hypersonic missile development. The Zircon, a scramjet-powered anti-ship cruise missile is capable of attaining speeds of up to 11,100 km an hour.
It was test-launched from the Admiral Gorshkov warship in January this year in the Barents Sea. The Russian military has informed of plans to launch it from a submarine and the development of a lighter version for launch from a long range strategic bomber.