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US weapons report confirms delays to ground-based development programme

The US Navy and Army share a common glide body for their hypersonic capabilities. (US Navy)

The hypersonic missile programme being jointly developed by the US Army and Navy is continuing to see delays that will lead to the army's full fielding being pushed back to fiscal year (FY) 2025, according to a government watchdog.

Three test dates for the long-range hypersonic weapon (LRHW) in 2023 came and went after the tests were cancelled for technical reasons. Based on an assessment of the test and missile production plans, the army is not expected to field its first complete LRHW battery until FY 2025, Government Accountability Office (GAO) annual weapons assessment released on 17 June stated.

Before the first formation can be completed, a “successful end-to-end missile flight test” using an army launch system must be completed. The failed tests last year led to an independent technical review of the launcher system that is ongoing.

The next end-to-end test will likely take place in the fourth quarter of FY 2024, which means that fielding would likely not be able to take place before the next FY begins.

1st Multi-Domain Task Force (MDTF) has already received some equipment as part of the initial fielding of the battery in 2023. This fielding included ground-based control equipment and transporter erector launchers (TELs) that the formation is training with, General Bernard Harrington, commanding general of the 1st MDTF, told Janes in March.

“I don't want to give the impression that we're late,” said Jarret Lafleur, senior adviser to the principal director for hypersonic for strike systems strategy and policy. He pointed out that there has been a test flight for the weapon system.

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