The US DoD has announced it conducted a successful test of its Common-Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB) on March 19 from its Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii.
The C-HGB was launched atop a conventional missile which boosted it to the required altitude and speeds. The air vehicle then flew at hypersonic speeds to a designated impact point according to a US DoD release.
The advantage of developmental weapons such as the C-HGB is that they can fly at hypersonic speeds in the atmosphere and can manoeuvre, as opposed to ballistic missiles which have predictable flight paths once they apogee.
“This test builds on the success we had with Flight Experiment 1 in October 2017, in which our C-HGB achieved sustained hypersonic glide at our target distances,” VAdm Johnny Wolfe, the US Navy’s director of Strategic Systems Programs said in a March 20 release. “In this test we put additional stresses on the system and it was able to handle them all…we validated our design and are now ready to move to the next phase towards fielding a hypersonic strike capability.”
The C-HGB is being developed by the US Navy with funding from the US Army. The vehicle is comprised of a conventional warhead, guidance system, and a thermal shield for the extreme temperatures encountered at hypersonic speeds. The development aims to integrate the vehicle with ground and sea-based launch vehicles but to retain as much commonality as possible across the two services.
It is hoped an operational surface-launched C-HGB could be fielded by the US Army and Navy by 2023, and a submarine-launched version in 2024.