US kept missile test quiet to avoid escalating tensions with Russia.
The US military kept a successful test of a hypersonic missile secret for two weeks to avoid escalating tensions with Russia, a defense official confirmed to The Hill.
The hypersonic air-breathing weapon (HAWC) proof-of-concept, announced Tuesday, took place in mid-March as President Biden was preparing to travel to Europe. It also came days after Russian forces claimed to have used a hypersonic missile in Ukraine, the official said.
CNN was the first to report on the delayed announcement.
Launched from a B-52 bomber off the West Coast, the HAWC used a booster engine to accelerate the missile to Mach 5, five times the speed of sound, according to a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) statement. ). The agency conducted the test in conjunction with the Air Force and Lockheed Martin.
The missile eventually “reached altitudes in excess of 65,000 feet and flew more than 300 nautical miles,” the statement said.
The test marks the first time the Lockheed Martin version of the system has completed a successful flight. DARPA in September also made a successful test flight from a Raytheon-built missile that used an engine made by Northrop Grumman.
The test came less than a week after Russia claimed on March 19 that it had struck a Ukrainian weapons storage facility with a hypersonic missile.
Biden was also preparing for a visit to NATO allies in Europe, which included a stop in Poland to meet with Ukraine’s foreign and defense minister.
This is not the first time the United States has taken steps to prevent an unnecessary escalation of tensions between Washington and Moscow after Russia began its attack on Ukraine in late February.
The US military in March postponed a test of the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile before calling off the launch entirely on Friday.