Washington: The US had successfully tested a hypersonic missile in mid-March but did not make any statement for two weeks to avoid escalating tensions with Russia as President Joe Biden was scheduled to travel to Europe, according to a defence official.
CNN quoted the official as saying that the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) was launched from a B-52 bomber off the west coast in the first successful test of the Lockheed Martin version of the system.
A booster engine accelerated the missile to high speed, at which point the air-breathing scramjet engine ignited and propelled the missile at hypersonic speeds of Mach 5 and above, he said.
He further said that the missile flew above 65,000 feet and for over 300 miles. The test occurred days after Russia announced having used its own hypersonic missile to attack an ammunition warehouse during its invasion of Ukraine.
However, the Russian use of hypersonic missile was downplayed by the US as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said it was not “some sort of game changer”. Days later Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said that it was “hard to know what exactly the justification” was for the launch.
“That’s a pretty significant sledgehammer to take out a target like that,” he added.