For a test of a hypersonic weapon flying at eight times the speed of sound and nailing a target thousands of miles away, this was a relatively simple demonstration. But it worked, and now the military is a small step closer to its dream of hitting a target anywhere on Earth in less than an hour.
The last time the Pentagon test-fired a hypersonic missile, back in August, it live-tweeted the event — until the thing crashed into the Pacific Ocean. This time around, it kept the test relatively quiet. The results were much better .
I’m thinking it would take a pretty damn High Value Target to get the President to go “weapons free” on something like this. It’s not quite an exoatmospheric vehicle like a ballistic missile. But it’s pretty close.
My guess would be that it is designed as a counter to the possible launch of a first generation ICBM by a power such as North Korea or Iran. First gen missiles got to their targets just as fast as more modern ICBMs, but prepping them for launch took a while longer. Also, they tended to be surface launched from a pad, as opposed to silo launched like more modern weapons. Once the missile is on the pad, there’s a very limited window of opportunity to engage, and conventional strike platforms might well not be reactive enough to do it. Further, that vulnerability on the pad means any aggressor would face a “use it or lose it” situation, where the longer it was on the pad, the more vulnerable to conventional strike options the missile was- thus encouraging them to launch as soon as possible.