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Advanced Hypersonic Weapon First Test Flight

Advanced Hypersonic Weapon First Test Flight

The secret Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW) successfully completes its first test flight...

The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command has successfully completed the first test flights of its new Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW).

Launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii, the AHW flew around 2,400 miles to its impact location at the Reagan Test Site, U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll.

advanced hypersonic weapon test flight

Advanced Hypersonic Weapon Completes First Test Flight

The AHW did not carry any ordnance on its first flight; instead the vehicle was equipped with an array of sensors to analyze aerodynamics; navigation, guidance, and thermal protection technologies.

The AHW is uses a three-stage booster system, developed by Sandia National Laboratories, to launch itself at speeds up to 768 mph, approx. mach 5

Unlike conventional nukes, the AHW is designed to fly a non-ballistic glide trajectory within the earth’s atmosphere. This provides two major benefits; it evades enemy detection, and if by any chance enemy sensors do pick it up, it wouldn’t be mistaken for a preemptive nuclear strike.

The AHW was developed as part of the Conventional Prompt Global Strike (CPGS) program; a project managed and executed by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command program office in Huntsville, Ala.

Related Posts:


  1. Press Release: Department of Defense Announces Successful Test of Army Advanced Hypersonic Weapon Concept. U.S. Department of Defense, 11/17/2011.
  2. Sam Biddle: Army Tests Its Own Secret Supersonic Attack Vehicle. Gizmodo, 11/17/2011.
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  1. 768 mph, is not mach 5

    • Mach 5 is five times the speed of sound. The speed of sound in air at sea level and standard temperature and pressure is about 1,100 feet per second and that is Mach 1. Mach 5 is five times as fast. Mach 5 differs at higher elevations because the temperature and pressure (and air density) differ. The Mach number represents the speed of an aircraft relative to the speed of sound at the given elevation.

      M = V/a


      • M is the Mach number
      • V is the velocity of the source relative to the medium and
      • a is the speed of sound in the medium.

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