Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon deployed to Cape Canaveral for testing
Place of originUnited States
Service history
In service2023–present[1]
Used byUnited States Army[2]
United States Navy (planned)
Production history
ManufacturerLockheed Martin
Unit cost$41 million[3] [4]
Specifications
Mass16,300 lb (7,400 kg)[1]
Diameter34.5 in (0.88 m)(reportedly)[5]

Operational
range
1875 mi (3000 km)[6]
Maximum speed Mach 17[7]

The Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) is a medium-range surface-to-surface hypersonic weapon being developed for use by the United States Army. The United States Navy intends to procure a ship/submarine-launched variant of the missile as part of the service's Intermediate-Range Conventional Prompt Strike (IRCPS) program.[2] The weapon consists of a large rocket booster that carries the unpowered Common-Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB) in a nose cone. Once the booster reaches significant altitude and speed, it releases the C-HGB, which glides at hypersonic speeds as it descends towards its target. Dynetics will build the hypersonic glide vehicle while Lockheed Martin will build the booster as well as assemble the missile and launch equipment.[8]

The C-HGB has been successfully tested twice, in October 2017 and March 2020.[9][10] The missile is planned to enter service with the Army in 2023.[11] The Navy intends to field the weapon aboard its Zumwalt-class destroyers by 2025[11] and later on its Block V Virginia-class submarines[12] in 2028; it was intended to also be fielded on guided missile variants of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, but funding delays and the boats' impending retirement caused those plans to be scrapped.[13]

Development and testing

Common-Hypersonic Glide Body

In 2018, the Navy was designated to lead the design of the Common-Hypersonic Glide Body with input from the Army's Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office.[14]

Design

A 2020 test launch of a STARS booster carrying a prototype of the Common-Hypersonic Glide Body

The design of the Common-Hypersonic Glide Body is based on the previously developed Alternate Re-Entry System, which was tested in the early 2010s as part of the Army's Advanced Hypersonic Weapon program.[15][16] The Alternate Re-Entry System was itself based on the Sandia Winged Energetic Reentry Vehicle Experiment (SWERVE) prototype developed by Sandia National Laboratories in the 1980s.[17] Design work is by Sandia while Dynetics constructs prototypes and test units.

Testing

The first test of the Intermediate Range Conventional Prompt Strike Flight Experiment-1, was on 30 October 2017. A missile capable of fitting in the launch tube of an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine flew over 2,000 nautical miles from Hawaii to the Marshall Islands at hypersonic speeds.[18] The Common-Hypersonic Glide Body was tested in March 2020.[9][10]

LRHW subsystems were tested at Project Convergence 2022 (PC22).[19][20]

Boosters

The first stage solid rocket motor was tested 27 May 2020.[21]

Both stages of the missile booster as well as a thrust vector control system were tested in 2021.[22][23]

On 29 October 2021, the booster rocket for the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon was successfully tested in a static test in Utah; the first stage thrust vector control system was included in the test.[24]

In March 2021, training with inert missile canisters began.[1] On 7 October 2021, 17th Field Artillery Brigade of the I Corps received ground equipment for the first operational LRHW battery.[25]

In June 2022 in Hawaii, a launch failure of Conventional Prompt Strike occurred after ignition.[26] The test of a completely assembled CPS weapon, which uses a two-stage booster,[27] failed before ignition of the C-HGB.[28]

Entry into service

The United States Army intends to deploy the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon in an eight missile battery containing four M983 trucks and trailers each holding two missiles in launch canisters alongside a command vehicle.[9][10] The LRHW has been named Dark Eagle by the US Army.[29][30][31]

In February 2023, the 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment (5-3 LRFB) — 1st MDTF's long-range fires battalion— deployed the LRHW from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Tacoma, Washington to Cape Canaveral, Florida. The first battery of missiles was expected to be deployed by end of September 2023.[32]

On 7 September 2023, a test launch of the LRHW system was canceled due to an unspecified failure of pre-flight checks.[33][34][35] Douglas R. Bush revealed that the launcher had a "mechanical engineering problem", and that a new plan was in place to correct and test it.[36][37][38]

See also

References

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  2. ^ a b Parlato, Richard (30 March 2023). "1st Multi-Domain Task Force deploys the Army's first Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon system". U.S. Army. Archived from the original on 3 December 2023.
  3. ^ CBO Estimates $15-18 Million Cost Per ARRW Hypersonic Missile. Air & Space Forces Magazine. 1 February 2023.
  4. ^ Tirpak, John A. (1 February 2023). "CBO Estimates $15-18 Million Cost Per ARRW Hypersonic Missile". Air & Space Forces Magazine. Archived from the original on 4 January 2024.
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  6. ^ https://www.cbo.gov/system/files/2023-01/58255-hypersonic.pdf
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  11. ^ a b Megan Eckstein (17 Feb 2023) Navy awards Lockheed Martin $1.2B contract for hypersonic missiles
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