Defense Media Network

Army Hypersonics

by Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office

What is it?

Hypersonic weapons introduce a new class of ultrafast, maneuverable, long-range missiles. The U.S. Army is prototyping the land-based, ground launched Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) that will provide residual combat capability to Soldiers. This prototype is being built under the direction of Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO).

Hypersonics is one of the highest priority modernization areas the Department of Defense is pursuing and is part of the Army’s number one modernization priority Long Range Precision Fires.

What are the current and past efforts of the Army?

The Army and Navy, with the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), are partnered by a Joint Service Memorandum of Agreement to produce hypersonic capabilities. The Army/Navy team is executing hypersonics through use of a common hypersonic glide body, common missile design and joint test opportunities. Working together, the team:

  • Completed OSD-led Conventional Prompt Strike Flight Experiments to demonstrate the viability of the common hypersonic glide body designed by Sandia National Laboratories.
  • Accelerated the delivery of a prototype ground-launched hypersonic weapon to Fiscal Year (FY) 2023.
  • Demonstrated the launch of the common hypersonic glide body, which flew at hypersonic speed and struck the designated target with precise accuracy.
  • Completed the design, development and initial testing of the LRHW ground equipment and delivered it to the 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment so Soldiers could begin training.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned?

The Army and Navy Team will continue to transition hypersonic capabilities out of government laboratories and into commercial production utilizing a knowledge transfer approach called “leader/follower.” Additional efforts will include:

  • Conduct joint tests to validate the common hypersonic glide body, the two-stage motor stack, the Army launcher and the command-and-control system in FY22-FY23.
  • Hold New Equipment Training for Soldiers with the LRHW starting in October 2021 and complete fielding in FY23.
  • Complete and transition the LRHW prototype to the Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space (PEO M&S) no later than FY24.
  • Jointly test technology insertions for the weapon system that advance warfighting capabilities.

Why is this important to the Army?

The Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon provides a critical weapon to act as a powerful deterrent to adversaries and provide capability in combat. This effort supports the Army in building towards a modern, Multi Domain Operations-ready Force of 2035, which will build irreversible momentum and continue to establish the Army as a leader in technology and concepts.