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First major US hypersonic weapon likely to miss fielding goal

The US Army's LRHW could be delayed in fielding because of a recent flight cancellation. (US Navy)

The US Department of Defense (DoD) cancelled a flight test scheduled for the US Army's Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) on 6 September, the Pentagon told reporters on 7 September.

The flight test scheduled at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, was cancelled after undergoing pre-flight checks, DoD Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters. The army declined to confirm if the cancellation would push the army over the deadline it set for itself of having LRHW fielded, but “delivering hypersonic weapons remains a top priority for the department”, Ellen Lovett, army spokesperson, told Janes on 7 September.

“The department was able to successfully collect data on the performance of the ground hardware and software that will inform the continued progress towards fielding offensive hypersonic weapons,” she added.

The army planned two tests for the weeks leading up to the end of the fiscal year, Doug Bush, assistant secretary of the army for acquisition, logistics, and technology, told reporters in August. The first one would be a “critical”, end-to-end test of the capability that he said was more important than the follow-up test that was planned. “Funding is in place, and we are moving out on those final couple of tests to make sure we have an operational weapon,” Bush said at the time.

The army declined to provide details about any additional tests that could happen. “The department does not publicly disclose on the details of its hypersonic flight test plans or events to protect future operational capabilities,” Venetia Gonzalez, spokesperson for the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office told Janes on 7 September.

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