Traveling at a mind-numbing speed of Mach 5 (5 times the speed of sound/3800mph) makes this missile almost undetectable before it hits the intended target. They conducted a flight test to see how the B-52H strategic bomber would perform when carrying the missile.
The missile itself was not equipped with explosives during the test but had sensors and radars to detect vibration and load.
"In general, the sheer speed, as well as the level atmospheric flight profile and ability to maneuverable in unpredictable ways, makes hypersonic weapons ideally suited for penetrating past enemy defenses to perform short- or no-notice strikes against time-critical and other strategic targets," the U.S. Air Force said.
Major powers such as the U.S., China and Russia have developed hypersonic missiles, which are too fast to be intercepted by any current missile defense system.
Hypersonic missiles come in two variants. A hypersonic cruise missile reaches its target with the help of a high-speed jet engine that allows it to travel at extreme speeds. It is not like ballistic missiles which use gravitational forces to reach its target.
A hypersonic glide vehicle utilizes re-entry vehicles. The missile is launched into space where the warheads fall towards the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds. The warheads are attached to a glide vehicle which re-enters the atmosphere, and through its aerodynamic shape it can ride the shockwaves generated by its own lift as it breaches the speed of sound. The glide vehicle reaches its destination by leveraging aerodynamic forces.
(This article was contributed by Joseph Kwak, an Aju Business Daily contractor based in San Francisco)
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