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Hypersonic Strike Vehicle

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On the other hand--start and end:

Hypersonic missiles: Three questions every reader should ask

Interest in hypersonic weapons is taking off. The United States has for decades supported a modest research effort in such weapons, but now, spurred along by Russia and China, it’s ramping up efforts. Russian President Vladimir Putin used his 2018 address to the nation to announce the development of a hypersonic glider that he claimed would be able to get through all US defenses, and that weapon assumed combat duty this month. Meanwhile, even a cursory scan of the academic research literature shows a healthy presence in this field at Chinese universities, and the hypersonic DF-17 missile was all the rage at that country’s 70th anniversary parade in October. Michael Griffin, head of the Pentagon’s research and engineering, has stated that hypersonic weapons, and defense against them, were the military’s highest technical priorities.

Interest from the press has followed. Scan Google News for the word “hypersonic,” and three times as many hits come up in the last two years as in the previous two-year period. Several reports have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Economist, and other leading general-interest publications, plus many more examples in the trade press.

One thing that jumps out from almost all of these pieces is a glaring lack of normal journalistic skepticism (with a few admirable exceptions). Indeed, some major pieces are downright fawning. The authors readily accept advocates’ claims that hypersonic weapons will move at blinding speeds, have extended range, be easily maneuverable, and strike targets with high precision without considering the engineering challenges or inherent physical limitations that will make this combination of capabilities difficult—if not impossible.

Why do reports on hypersonic weapons generally range from kid-glove treatment to cheer-leading? There are a few different things going on here. Hypersonic vehicles are really impressive and it is easy to be dazzled by their performance (or, more precisely, the performance that is claimed for them). After all, who doesn’t love Formula 1 racecars, speedboats, and anything else that moves fast? Aircraft that can fly through the air with such speed that bits of it start to glow red have an intrinsic appeal.

Analysts should, of course, see past the dazzle. But that reveals another great challenge for reporters covering this topic: the dearth of outside expertise or contrary views. Virtually anyone in the United States who has a solid technical understanding of hypersonic aerodynamics is working for the Defense Department, one of the national laboratories, a contractor working for Defense, or is a university researcher supported at least in part by Defense Department grants.

To be clear, this does not mean that the people doing this work and claiming great virtues for hypersonic vehicles are shills for something they know is nonsense. Quite the opposite. Why would anyone devote their life to hypersonic research if they did not think the work was more than simply intriguing but also important? And those with hands-on experience tend to be very forthcoming about the technical challenges. These are honest believers, but the funding realities tends to create enthusiasts rather than skeptics. There are a mere handful of people in the United States who have some scientific and technical understanding of hypersonic vehicles who are not working directly or indirectly for the military—and that means a very limited set of contrary views.

An early lack of naysayers almost always occurs when some new idea or proposed system first appears. A new idea gets pushed forward by enthusiasts and advocates and it takes a while for the analytical community to scratch its collective head and come back with: “Wait a second…”

...it’s clear that much of the motivation for the US hypersonic weapons program is mainly a reflexive response to Russian and Chinese developments: If they do it, then we should too. US government officials have been quite explicit that the American effort is intended, in part, to avoid falling behind in this “race” with Russia and China. Yet, the strategic challenges of each country are radically different. Russian leaders have said explicitly that their hypersonic efforts are in response to US missile defenses and US abrogation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and they might be telling the truth. Of the three countries, the United States is, indeed, working hardest on ballistic missile defenses. When looking out at the threats in the world, Russia and China have very different views than does the United States. There is no reason for the United States to go on autopilot and mirror-image their moves with regard to hypersonic weapons.

Perhaps this whole idea will collapse under its own weight, but not before the United States has spent several billion dollars. That’s why the analytical community shouldn’t wait. It’s bad to be cynical but good to be skeptical. Those who write about this new weapon should stop and take a breath—and ask hard, honest questions.
https://thebulletin.org/2019/12/hypersonic-missiles-three-questions-every-reader-should-ask/#

But might not hypersonics, esp. stealthy cruise missiles, be just the ticket for decapitation of most of an enemy's key C4ISR facilities? Amongst other things.

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Congressional Research Service on Prompt Global Strike, hypersonics and nuclear weapons:

Report to Congress on Conventional Prompt Global Strike and Long-Range Ballistic Missiles

From the report

Members of Congress and Pentagon officials have placed a growing emphasis on U.S. programs to develop hypersonic weapons as a part of an effort to acquire the capability for the United States to launch attacks against targets around the world in under an hour. Conventional prompt global strike (CPGS) weapons may bolster U.S. efforts to deter and defeat adversaries by allowing the United States to attack high-value targets or “fleeting targets” at the start of or during a conflict. Congress has generally supported the PGS mission, but restricted funding for several years. Recently, efforts to develop a long-range prompt strike capability, along with other efforts to develop extremely fast hypersonic weapons, have garnered increased support.

CPGS weapons would not substitute for nuclear weapons, but would supplement U.S. conventional capabilities. Officials have argued that the long-range systems would provide a “niche” capability, with a small number of weapons directed against select, critical targets. Some analysts, however, have raised concerns about the possibility that U.S. adversaries might misinterpret the launch of a missile with conventional warheads and conclude that the missiles carry nuclear weapons. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is considering a number of systems that might provide the United States with long-range strike capabilities.

The Air Force and Navy have both pursued programs that would lead to the deployment of conventional warheads on their long-range ballistic missiles. During the 2000s, the Air Force and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) sought to develop a hypersonic glide delivery vehicle that could deploy on a modified Peacekeeper land-based ballistic missile, but test failures led to the suspension of this program; research continues into a vehicle that might be deployed on air-delivered or shorter-range systems. In the mid-2000s, the Navy sought to deploy conventional warheads on a small number of Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missiles, but Congress rejected the requested funding for this program. Since then, the Pentagon has continued to develop a hypersonic glide vehicle, now known as the Alternate Reentry System, which could be deployed on long-range missiles. At present, it seems likely that this vehicle could be deployed on intermediate-range missiles on Navy submarines, for what is now known as the Prompt Strike Mission. Congress may review other weapons options for the deployment of hypersonic weapons, including bombers, cruise missiles, and possibly scramjets or other advanced technologies.

The Pentagon’s FY2021 budget request continues to show significant increases in funding for the Navy’s Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) program. In FY2019 this program, which was funded through a DOD-wide account, received $278 million. The Navy received $512 million for this program in FY2020 and requested $1.008 billion for FY2021. The budget request shows continuing increases in funding over the next five years, with $5.3 billion allocated to the program between FY2021 through FY2025. This shows the growing priority placed on the program in the Pentagon and the growing interest in Congress in moving the program forward toward deployment.

When Congress reviews the budget requests for prompt global strike and other hypersonic weapons programs, it may question DOD’s rationale for the mission, reviewing whether the United States might have to attack targets promptly at the start of or during a conflict, when it could not rely on forward-based land or naval forces. It might also review whether this capability would reduce U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons or whether, as some critics have asserted, it might upset stability and possibly increase the risk of a nuclear response to a U.S. attack. At the same time, Members of Congress and officials in the Pentagon have both noted that Russia and China are pursuing hypersonic weapons, leading many to question whether the United States needs to accelerate its efforts in response, or whether an acceleration of U.S. efforts might contribute to an arms race and crisis instability...
https://news.usni.org/2020/02/17/report-to-congress-on-conventional-prompt-global-strike-and-long-range-ballistic-missiles-2

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More on US Navy's plans, wants conventionally-armed hypersonics on its SSNs–but how will the target know they're not nuclear armed?

Navy Confirms Global Strike Hypersonic Weapon Will First Deploy on Virginia Attack Subs

The Navy intends to deploy its conventional prompt strike hypersonic weapon on Virginia-class attack submarines, after previous discussions of putting the weapon on the larger Ohio-class guided-missile submarine (SSGN), according to budget request documents…

On the Conventional Prompt Strike, the Navy wants to invest $1 billion for research and development.

“The CPS program develops warfighting capability to enable precise and timely strike capability in contested environments across surface and sub-surface platforms,” reads the budget documents.
“The Navy’s CPS program will design a missile comprised of a Common Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB) and a 34.5 inch two-stage booster. The program is pursuing an [initial operational capability] of FY 2028 in which the missile will be fielded on a Virginia class submarine with Virginia Payload Module.”..

The conventional prompt global strike capability would allow the U.S. to hit any target on the planet with precision-guided weapons in less than an hour. Similar to nuclear weapons, part of that prompt strike capability would rely on multiple ways to launch the missiles from ships, submarines or ground launchers around the globe…
https://news.usni.org/2020/02/18/navy-confirms-global-strike-hypersonic-weapon-will-first-deploy-on-virginia-attack-subs

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Post:

Pentagon Going Hyper over Hypersonics
https://mark3ds.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/pentagon-going-hyper-over-hypersonics/
AGM-183A-ARRW.jpg

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Post based on reports by Congressional Research Service, International Institute of Strategic Studies--big NORAD implications as alluded to by CDS Gen. Vance in speech to CDAI conference (https://cdainstitute.ca/jonathan-vance-speaks-at-2020-ottawa-conference/):

Hypersonics? What Are They Good For? What About Arms Control?
https://mark3ds.wordpress.com/2020/03/06/hypersonics-what-are-they-good-for-what-about-arms-control/

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Now Japan:

Japan unveils its hypersonic weapons plans

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Japan has outlined its research and development road map for its homegrown, standoff hypersonic weapons, confirming that it is seeking an incremental growth in capability and providing more details about the kinds of threats it is targeting with this new class of weapon.

In a Japanese-language document published on the Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency website, the government said two classes of standoff hypersonic systems will be deployed — the Hypersonic Cruise Missile (HCM) and the Hyper Velocity Gliding Projectile (HVGP).

The former will be powered by a scramjet engine and appears similar to a typical missile, albeit one that cruises at a much higher speed while capable of traveling at long ranges.

The HVGP, on the other hand, will feature a solid-fuel rocket engine that will boost its warhead payload to a high altitude before separation, where it will then glide to its target using its altitude to maintain high velocity until impact.

The agency also provided more details regarding warhead payloads, with different warheads planned for both seaborne and land targets. The former will be an armor-piercing warhead designed specifically for penetrating “the deck of the [aircraft] carrier,” while a land-attack version will utilize a high-density, explosively formed projectile, or EFP, for area suppression.

Area suppression effects for the latter will be achieved via the use of multiple EFPs, which are more commonly known as a shaped charge. An EFP is made up of a concave metal hemispherical or cone-shaped liner backed by a high explosive, all in a steel or aluminum casing. When the high explosive is detonated, the metal liner is compressed and squeezed forward, forming a jet whose tip may travel as fast as 6 miles per second.

Japan’s road map also revealed the country is taking an incremental approach with regard to designing the shapes of warheads and developing solid-fuel engine technology, with plans to field early versions of both in the 2024 to 2028 time frame. They are expected to enter service in the early 2030s [emphasis added]...
https://www.defensenews.com/industry/techwatch/2020/03/13/japan-unveils-its-hypersonic-weapons-plans/

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Dig this loadout (lots of further links at original):

Air Force Wants To Use External Pylons To Arm The B-1B Bomber With 31 Hypersonic Missiles
The configuration would revolutionize the B-1's standoff strike capability and it would keep the jet relevant as it enters the twilight of its career.

A top U.S. Air Force officer has detailed plans to add the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon, as well as the Hypersonic Air-Breathing Weapon Concept, both of which are hypersonic missiles, to the B-1B Bone bomber's arsenal. He also curiously talked about the potential for these aircraft to carry a conventionally-armed version of the future Long Range Stand Off stealthy cruise missile, something Congress effectively canceled last year.

U.S. Air Force General Timothy Ray, head of Air Force Global Strike Command, which oversees all of America's bomber fleets, gave an update on future B-1B loadouts in a recent interview with Air Force Magazine. Last year, the service highlighted work to expand the bomber's ability to carry hypersonic weapons and other new stores, both internally and externally. This all also comes amid already controversial plans to retire 17 of its 60 remaining Bones in the 2021 Fiscal Year and has severely scaled back the activities of the fleet as a whole, prohibiting crews from flying at low altitudes and restricting total annual flight hours, which you can read about more in this past War Zone exclusive.

"My goal would be to bring on at least a squadron’s worth of airplanes modified with external pylons on the B-1, to carry the ARRW [Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon] hypersonic cruise missile," General Ray told Air Force Magazine. He added that the service had contemplated several options for integrating the AGM-183A onto the bombers, "but we believe the easiest, fastest, and probably most effective in the short term will be to go with the external pylons."

At present, B-1 squadron typically has 18 aircraft, according to Air Force Magazine. Ray appears to have misspoken in describing ARRW, which is pronounced "arrow," as a "cruise missile." The AGM-183A has an unpowered hypersonic boost-glide vehicle as its warhead. The weapon's rocket booster lofts that vehicle to an appropriate speed and altitude, after which it then glides down along a level trajectory within the Earth's atmosphere to its target. The weapon's high speed and unpredictable flight path make it difficult for opponents to detect and track, which makes it hard to move critical assets out of the target area, if at all possible, or otherwise take shelter before the strike hits, or even attempt an intercept...

The Air Force is also looking at the B-1B as a potential platform to carry the Hypersonic Air-Breathing Weapon Concept, or HAWC. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been leading the development of this powered hypersonic cruise missile, though the Air Force Research Laboratory has also been involved. Air Force Magazine says that the Bones, using external pylons and common rotary launchers in their internal bomb bays, could potentially carry a mix of up to 31 hypersonic missiles in total [emphasis added].

Interestingly, General Ray also raised the possibility of adding a conventionally-armed variant of the Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) stealthy cruise missile, which is presently in development, to the B-1B's arsenal in the future. “Right now, we’re not asking for that, based on the prioritization of the nuclear piece, … but there’s things that could change in the future [emphasis added],” he told Air Force Magazine.

This is curious because Congress specifically eliminated its requirement for a conventional version of the LRSO in the annual defense policy bill, or National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), for the 2020 Fiscal Year, which President Donald Trump signed into law in December 2019. The law's language did not expressly prohibit the Air Force from pursuing this capability on its own, but removed an immediate legal demand for the service to do so.

Ray said that there could be a demand for this weapon based on a desire for "an even longer-ranged cruise missile with conventional capability" and because the AGM-86 series is "aging out on us." However, the Air Force has already retired the conventional AGM-86C/D variants and has initiated the development of an "extreme range" variant of the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile cruise missile, also known as the AGM-158D or JASSM-XR.

The exact range capability the Air Force is seeking from JASSM-XR is unknown, but it is said to be in excess of 1,000 miles, which would already give it a substantially greater range than the AGM-86C/D [emphasis added]. In addition, the service is hoping to have this missile, which will leverage existing work on the JASSM, including the AGM-158B JASSM-Extended Range (JASSM-ER) version, out of development by 2023, with the first examples hopefully entering service relatively soon thereafter. The nuclear-armed LSRO is not supposed to reach initial operational capability until at least 2030...
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/32940/air-force-wants-to-use-external-pylons-on-b-1b-bomber-to-arm-it-with-31-hypersonic-missiles

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MarkOttawa said:
Post based on reports by Congressional Research Service, International Institute of Strategic Studies--big NORAD implications as alluded to by CDS Gen. Vance in speech to CDAI conference (https://cdainstitute.ca/jonathan-vance-speaks-at-2020-ottawa-conference/):

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Hypersonics testing ramping up (further links at original):

Hypersonics: 5 More Army-Navy Flight Tests By 2023
The first four flight tests – one a failure -- took nine years. The next five will take less than three years.

“We need to accelerate the pace of testing,” the Army’s three-star director of hypersonics says. “Fourth quarter FY23 is when the Army builds [this weapon]; that time is coming really fast. [And] we’re lucky, because when we woke up on the 27th of December and the Russians publicly declared that they had fielded a similar capability, that really put us on a path to accelerate.”

Last year, Lt. Gen. Neil Thurgood took over the Army’s reorganized and renamed Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO), which is now responsible for both offensive hypersonic missiles and missile defense lasers. What kind of acceleration is he talking about?

The weapon that evolved into the Common Hypersonic Glide Body – so-called because it will go on both Army land-launched missiles and Navy submarine-launched ones – has had just four flight tests in nine years. The first, successful flight was in 2011. It took three years to get to the second test, in 2014, which produced no useful data because the booster rocket failed and the glide body never detached. The second successful test took another three years, to 2017; the third test, last month, another three years.

But looking forward, “our next flight test will be in third quarter ’21. Then we have additional flight tests in first quarter ’22,” Thurgood told me. “We have five more flight tests – at least five more flight tests – before we build in fourth quarter ’23.”

Tests will not only come closer together. They’ll also become more demanding.

“We are working to make it more accurate and survive in a more stressful environment,” said Thurgood’s deputy for hypersonics, Robert Strider. “With every test that we do, we’re increasing the test envelope to make sure that it will work as designed [read on]...”
https://breakingdefense.com/2020/04/hypersonics-5-more-army-navy-flight-tests-by-2023/

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Start of a post:

Pentagon Going Hyper over Hypersonics, Part 2

Further to this post (note others linked to at end),

Hypersonics? What Are They Good For? What About Arms Control?

the Pentagon does seem to be going into hyperdrive over this new class of missilery, hang any arms control implications (note general preference for air-breathers)–at Breaking Defense:

Hypersonics: DoD Wants ‘Hundreds of Weapons’ ASAP
“We want to deliver hypersonics at scale,” said R&D director Mark Lewis, from air-breathing cruise missiles to rocket-boosted gliders that fly through space.

The Pentagon has created a “war room” to ramp up production of hypersonic weapons from a handful of prototypes over the last decade to “hundreds of weapons” in the near future...
https://mark3ds.wordpress.com/2020/04/25/pentagon-going-hyper-over-hypersonics-part-2/

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USAF air-breathers:

USAF Kicks Off Early Study For Hypersonic Cruise Missile

The U.S. Air Force has taken the first step in an acquisition process that could lead to an air-launched hypersonic conventional cruise missile.

A “sources sought” notice published April 28 on the federal government’s procurement web site kicks off a market research study for the “future hypersonics program.”

The Air Force seeks responses from companies involved in the integration of a Weapon Open System Architecture-based, solid-rocket boosted missile with an air-breathing propulsion system in the second stage.

Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are developing competing demonstrators of such a hypersonic cruise missile under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC). Flight testing of both versions of HAWC are expected to start later this year.

Another possible competitor for an Air Force cruise missile program could be Boeing. The company’s X-43 and X-51 vehicles demonstrated the viability of scramjet-powered air vehicles.

The market research study follows a series of comments since last June by senior Air Force and defense officials supporting an acquisition program for a hypersonic cruise missile.

Interest in air-breathing hypersonic propulsion appeared to fade when rocket-boosted gliders became the Defense Department’s top priority in 2017. The Defense Department funded operational prototyping programs for three different rocket-boosted gliders, but only the HAWC demonstrator in the scramjet propulsion category. 

As late as December 2018, Mike Griffin, director of Defense Research and Engineering, said scramjet-powered cruise missiles were less mature than rocket-boosted gliders.

But wind tunnel test data and rig testing in the first half of 2019 appeared to change the interest level. By June, Will Roper, assistant secretary of the air force for acquisition, technology and logistics, said cruise missile technology had made significant progress. In January, two of Griffin’s subordinates, Mark Lewis and Mike White, confirmed they were building an acquisition program for a hypersonic cruise missile.

Arguments in favor of air-breathing hypersonic technology have expanded beyond the maturity of scramjet propulsion systems. According to Lewis, Mach 5-plus cruise missiles offer greater flexibility and affordability. As they are smaller than rocket-boosted gliders, they are generally cheaper to build and more can be loaded into the weapons bay of a bomber. The typically belly-mounted inlet of a cruise missile also allows the nose to be used to store a seeker [emphasis added].

The market research study proposes a fast schedule for missile development. A preliminary design review is targeted for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021, less than 18 months away.
https://aviationweek.com/defense-space/missile-defense-weapons/usaf-kicks-early-study-hypersonic-cruise-missile

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Eight stories From FlightGlobal:

Hypersonic missiles special
https://www.flightglobal.com/flight-international/hypersonics-missiles-special/138274.article

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Sure look to me that this USAF hypersonic could be pretty destabilizing in the absence of arms control and missile defences (further links at original):

Air Force Says New Hypersonic Missile Will Hit Targets 1,000 Miles Away In Under 12 Minutes
An Air Force Global Strike Command official has given us an indication of how fast the Air Force’s new Air-launched Rapid-Response Weapon will fly.

The U.S. Air Force says the hypersonic boost-glide vehicle warhead in its forthcoming AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid-Response Weapon hypersonic missile will fly at an average speed of between 5,000 and 6,000 miles per hour. This would be roughly between Mach 6.5 and Mach 8. At that speed, it will take only 10 to 12 minutes to strike targets 1,000 miles away. Air Force Major General Andrew Gebara, Air Force Global Strike Command’s (AFGSC) Director of Strategic Plans, Programs, and Requirements, disclosed the information in an interview with Air Force Magazine.

Expected to be the first hypersonic weapon to become operational with the U.S. military, the Air-launched Rapid-Response Weapon, or ARRW, which is pronounced “arrow,” will be carried by the command’s B-52H strategic bombers.

“This thing is going to be able to go, in 10-12 minutes, almost 1,000 miles,” Gebara said in the interview, which you can read in full here. “It’s amazing.”..

The Air Force plans to buy at least eight prototype ARRWs, some of which could potentially be used to field a limited operational arsenal of these weapons in the coming years. The service’s present goal is to reach initial operational capability with the weapon in September 2022.

However, the program is already running behind schedule and this timeline might not be met. It has seen costs spiral by nearly 40 percent and the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a Congressional watchdog, has warned there could be further delays…

Gebara also confirmed that the B-52 will be able to carry two ARRWs on each of its two underwing pylons. A four-missile load-out is something that we previously anticipated here…

Regardless of which platform carries the ARRW, it’s clear that it will provide the Air Force with a significantly enhanced short or no-notice strike capability, especially against time-critical or otherwise high-value and highly defended targets — providing the next phase of test work proves successful [emphasis added]. Combined with its speed and level atmospheric flight profile, the boost-glide vehicle will be able to maneuver in flight, making it even tougher for hostile air defenses to defeat. We explained more about the advances offered by hypersonic weapons in this previous article.

We also now know ARRW has a range of at least 1,000 miles, which will allow its launch platform to remain outside the reach of hostile defenses, at least in most cases.

It’s an area in which the United States is now concentrating its efforts in a bid to match similar developments in both China and Russia…
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/37045/air-force-says-new-hypersonic-missile-will-hit-targets-1000-miles-away-in-under-12-minutes

And if the USAF can put such missiles on arsenal planes it's thinking seriously about...?

Air Force C-17 Launched A Pallet Of Mock Cruise Missiles During Recent Arsenal Plane Test
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/36878/air-force-c-17-launched-a-pallet-of-mock-cruise-missiles-during-recent-arsenal-plane-test

Might the USAF also purchase new-build, modified civilian air frames for the arsenal plane role? The Boeing 787 is similar in weight to the C-17 (the latter’s production line shut some five years ago, the plant in southern California where it was made no longer exists). Note this from June at Aviation Week:

U.S. Air Force ‘Arsenal Plane’ Revival Sparks Intense Debate
https://aviationweek.com/defense-space/aircraft-propulsion/us-air-force-arsenal-plane-revival-sparks-intense-debate

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From a cost and availability viewpoint, using C-130 airframes as "arsenal aircraft" probably makes more sense. The production line is open, there are a lot of old C-130's in "boneyards" if you want to consider using unmanned airframes and having a lot of them around makes each individual one a lower value target than a C-17 with may times more missiles aboard. While the obvious objection is a C-130 is a lower performance airframe, the performance of the missile is actually what you are looking for.

I'm also curious about the hypersonic missile, and how miniaturized it can become. Back in the 1980's, the USAF modified a solid fuel AGM-69 SRAM to act as an ASAT, carried by a F-15 fighter. While obviously not the same as the modern missile, the SRAM was carried by the B-52 to deliver nuclear weapons, and was pretty much at the weight limit of the F-15 at the time. If a similar sized missile could be developed, delivering them by F-15EX would make missile defense more complicated, with smaller, faster carriers delivering the missiles from a much larger potential launch box.

Overwhelming adversaries with a "swarm of hornets" is probably the go to tactic for the foreseeable future, and one we should already be aware of, since both the Russians and Chinese have well developed capabilities, and the IRGC has used swarming "drones" in attacks on Saudi Arabia as well.
 

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Now Aussies want in on hypersonics party (further links at original):

Australia Teams Up With U.S. To Get Hypersonic Missiles For Its Super Hornets In Five Years
Plans call for the rapid prototyping of a new air-breathing long-range missile for the Royal Australian Air Force.

Australia is gearing up to start testing a new air-launched hypersonic missile “within months.” Details of the joint U.S.-Australian program are still emerging but point to a multi-million-dollar effort to develop an air-breathing, long-range missile that could ultimately be carried by a range of Royal Australian Air Force aircraft.

The new weapon is due to be formally announced tomorrow and prototypes are being developed together with the United States under the Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment, or SCIFiRE. Hypersonic weapons are generally understood to be capable of flying at least five times the speed of sound, giving them faster response time for striking critical targets and making them much harder to defend against than their slower counterparts.

In an official release, the U.S. Department of Defense noted that “The SCIFiRE effort aims to cooperatively advance air-breathing hypersonic technologies into full-size prototypes that are affordable and provide a flexible, long-range capability, culminating in flight demonstrations in operationally relevant conditions.”

“Developing this game-changing capability with the United States from an early stage is providing opportunities for Australian industry,” said Australian Defense Minister Linda Reynolds. “Investing in capabilities that deter actions against Australia also benefits our region, our allies, and our security partners. We remain committed to peace and stability in the region, and an open, inclusive, and prosperous Indo-Pacific.”..
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/37875/australia-teams-up-with-u-s-to-get-hypersonic-missiles-for-its-super-hornets-in-five-years

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USAF moving fast:

Roper: ARRW Hypersonic Missile Will Fly This Month

The Air Force will flight test the U.S. military’s first hypersonic missile this month, Air Force acquisition boss Will Roper said Dec. 14 at the inaugural Doolittle Leadership Center Forum. But while having a hypersonic weapon is an achievement, Roper added, it is not a full solution to the challenges posed by increasingly capable peer adversaries.

Roper’s comments came during a conversation with Air Force Association President and retired Lt. Gen. Bruce “Orville” Wright at an event titled “From Acquisition to Lethality.” That event featured a three-general panel with top leaders from Air Force Materiel Command, who spoke from the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. The forum was produced in partnership with AFA’s Wright Memorial Chapter there.

The AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) beat out the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon as prototyping progressed, and it completed captive-carry testing earlier this year. The first planned booster test flight is expected this month with production beginning next year, Roper said.

Hypersonic capabilities will give the Air Force a valuable stand-off strike option, but may not be quite as crucial to U.S. defense strategy as it was to China’s, Roper said. He pointed to Chinese development to counter U.S. missile defense systems, which are not designed to take on maneuverable, ultra-fast weapons.

Hypersonic weapons development “fundamentally challenges the principle of ballistic missile defense by making the missile non-ballistic,” he said. Those missiles fly lower, using the curvature of the Earth and quick movements to blind defenses to their approach.

“As we field the first hypersonic weapon, and I’m excited we’re doing that, it doesn’t undercut this investment our adversaries have, nor take away the principle of safety that I would expect they hold,” Roper said. “The U.S. has exceptional capabilities, especially in stealth aircraft that can penetrate and put weapons where they wish. So do our adversaries believe we don’t have the ability to target them? I would hope not. Hypersonic weapons just then become another way to do it.”

While stealth weapons provide the U.S. a strategic advantage in penetrated air defenses, hypersonic capability enables a conventional B-52 bomber to stand off at a distance while attacking a well-defended target. In conflict with a country like China, this combination presents “a landscape of problems.”

ARRW was tested this year with the B-52H, and Air Force Global Strike Command expects to also equip the B-1B to carry it. Roper said earlier this year it also could be carried on the F-15. Gen. Duke Z. Richardson, Roper’s military deputy and top USAF uniformed acquisition officer, said Dec. 3 that developing ARRW as a rapid prototype meant the missile will receive operational capability in 2022—five years earlier than if it was a traditional program…
https://www.airforcemag.com/roper-arrw-hypersonic-missile-will-fly-this-month/

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Efforts to get these missiles in service and in top form are, er, accelerating, no indication of any real negativity from the Biden administration–at Aviation Week and Space Technology:


Two years before the first battery is fielded, the next stage of technology development for a joint U.S. Army/Navy hypersonic missile program is set to begin.

A series of technology insertions aims to make hardened, mobile and relocatable targets vulnerable to the second tranche of the Army’s land-based Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) batteries and the first tranche of the Navy’s submarine- and surface-launched Intermediate-Range Conventional Prompt Strike (IRCPS) missiles, both scheduled to arrive in fiscal 2025.

The identical all-up round—a canister with a 34.5-in.-dia. two-stage booster and Common Hypersonic Glide Body (CHGB)—used by both programs is set to be fielded by the Army’s first LRHW battery in fiscal 2023, but it will feature a target set limited to fixed sites such as radar and communications dishes.

To move beyond those limitations, the cooperative Army/Navy program is developing a technology insertion plan that seeks to introduce an inflight retargeting capability and—most challenging of all—a terminal seeker.

“That’s not going to be an easy one,” said Robert Strider, deputy director of the Army Hypersonic Project Office, referring to a terminal seeker, at the Nuclear Triad Symposium on July 7.

The reentry speed of a CHGB launched by an LRHW/IRCPS missile may be as high as Mach 15. At those speeds, friction heating causes the airflow around the CHGB to ionize, creating a plasma sheath that interferes with incoming communications signals and outgoing transmissions by a radio-frequency sensor.

Solving the inflight retargeting problem with an inflight communications update appears feasible in the near term, said Strider. “We think we’ve got the pieces,” he said. “We’ve got to see how it all fits together.”

The harder problem is integrating a terminal seeker within the dimensions and environment of a biconic-shaped, hypersonic glider.

“Getting something that will be able to go after moving or relocated targets, you know, that’s a different story right now based on the maturity of some of the technologies,” Strider said. “We’ve got a lot of big brains that are looking into this.”

The Army and Navy also are interested in alternative warheads, said Capt. Gregory Zettler, the IRCPS program manager. The Air Force’s first hypersonic weapon—the Lockheed Martin AGM-183A—is equipped with a tungsten fragmentation warhead. If the LRHW/IRCPS is equipped with a similar warhead, the gliders would be limited to attacking soft targets. Alternative warheads could include penetrators for hardened targets or underground bunkers and cluster submunitions [emphasis added].

Although Zettler and Strider spoke at a symposium on nuclear weapons, Defense Department policy limits the new class of maneuvering hypersonic missiles to conventional explosives. But some defense officials expect that LRHW and IRCPS missiles could achieve a deterrent effect similar to a strategic nuclear weapon. In fact, in a recent exercise called the Joint Warfighting Assessment 2021, the presence of an LRHW battery was enough to deescalate a simulated conflict.

“They didn’t even shoot [the LRHW] because they didn’t have to,” Strider said. “When it shows up, it does what it’s supposed to do, which is deter any kind of conflict and let them know how serious we really are.”

Coming into service two years ahead of the IRCPS, the LRHW program is entering a critical period of flight testing. Earlier versions of the CHGB were tested three times between 2011 and 2017, with one failure in 2014. The first test of the operational version of the CHGB followed successfully in March 2019.

Strider said the Army is now preparing “very soon” for the next milestone test: Joint Flight Campaign (JFC)-1, which will be the first test of the CHGB and the two-stage missile stack. The Army slimmed the operational boosters to a diameter of 34.5 in. so the IRCPS will fit into the launch cells of the Navy’s Virginia Payload Module, he said.

A successful JFC-1 test will validate the performance of the all-up round from a launchpad. The next milestone will come in fiscal 2022 with the JFC-2 test, which will be the first from a transporter-erector launcher (TEL), Strider said. Lockheed has delivered all four TELs already to support the first battery. A follow-on JFC-3 test in fiscal 2022 will be the first to be directed by an operational unit, with no program office or contractor engineers providing supervision [emphasis added].

“When you think about normal programs of record—at the pace that they normally work and the milestones they go through—this is lightspeed,” Strider said.
 

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Missiles looking for missions--USAF secretary (an extremely capable fellow) is not best pleased:

Kendall: USAF Needs To Reassess Role Of Hypersonics​


U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall is not satisfied with progress on testing hypersonic weapons and said the service has not clearly determined what a role for the weapons would be.

The Air Force has seen three failed hypersonic flight tests within the past year, with the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon’s (ARRW) solid rocket motor not igniting during the latest attempt in July. In the previous test in April, the ARRW did not separate from its carrier aircraft. In December 2020, a DARPA/Air Force Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept also did not separate.

“The short answer is I’m not satisfied,” Kendall said Sept. 20 at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference.

Air Force Materiel Command boss Gen. Arnold Bunch told reporters Sept. 21 that the service has “not progressed exactly at the pace that we thought we were going to.” There was assumed risk when the programs started, but there has been a lack of progress.

“There are certain aspects, attributes that have not performed the way we need to and we’ve done fault reviews and we’ve done root cause analysis, and I’m very happy with the progress that the team is making to get after that,” Bunch said. “We continue to make investments in that area. And we are going to have to continue to put our focus there, and we will continue to take what I call educated risk as we move forward so that we can get a capability out to the field as quickly as possible.”

Meanwhile, Kendall said he also is “not satisfied with the degree to which we have figured out what we need for hypersonics, of what type, for what missions.” While it is clear to him what China and Russia want to do with their systems, the U.S. military still needs to determine what target sets it wants to address, and why hypersonics are the most cost-effective way to do that [emphasis added].

“I think it’s still somewhat of a question mark,” Kendall said. “But I haven’t seen all the analysis that has been done to justify the current work.”

If this is determined and resources flow, the industrial base would then respond to produce effective systems, he said.

“There’s some test assets we’d like to have that could still be funded,” Kendall said. “So, there are things we could do to accelerate that. But again, we’ve got to solve the problem first of where are we are trying to go, and then we get there as quickly as possible.”
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1) Oct. 12:


2) But US Army moving smartly ahead:

First Live Hypersonic Missile Rounds To Be Delivered to Army Unit Next Year

The service remains on pace to field an offensive hypersonic unit by fiscal 2023, general says...

The Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon is part of the Army’s Long-Range Precision Fires effort, a critical modernization priority as it pivots to the dispersed Indo-Pacific. Breaking Defense has previously reported that the LRHW can fly further than 2,775 km, or about 1,725 miles...

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