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AUSA 2023: Army is ‘confident' it will field hypersonic weapons this year

The US Army is confident its LRHW can be fielded this year despite a recent flight-test cancellation. (US Navy)

Despite testing delays, army officials are bullish that a new Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) could be fielded by the end of 2023.

“We are confident in the calendar year,” James Mills, deputy director of the Army Hypersonics Project Office in the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO), said during a 9 October briefing at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) annual conference in Washington, DC.

He said there is still work to be done, but noted that much has already been accomplished. In 2021 for example, the army fielded a field artillery battery at Joint Base Lewis-McChord with most of the necessary ground equipment – transporter erector launchers (TELS) and operation centres.

“They've had all that for years now and they've been practising with that. We've also done a good job exercising communications and the command-and-control of the system, which is not insignificant considering this is a new type of weapon system. That's never really been used on a battlefield or exercise before,” Mills said.

The Pentagon had cancelled a flight test scheduled for LRHW on 6 September after undergoing pre-flight checks. The army planned two tests for the weeks leading up to the end of the fiscal year, Doug Bush, the army's acquisition executive told reporters in August. The first one would be a “critical” end-to-end test. “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.

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