Air Force says it successfully tested hypersonic weapon


(NewsNation) — The U.S. Air Force said Monday that it had conducted a successful test of a hypersonic weapon, which flew at five times the speed of sound.

According to a statement from the Air Force, the test was conducted Saturday off the coast of Southern California when a B-52 bomber released an Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW.

After the weapon separated from the aircraft, its booster ignited and burned for the duration of the flight, the statement said.

The test comes as the U.S. races to develop hypersonic weapons to counter potential adversaries Russia and China.

The speed and maneuverability of hypersonic weapons make them difficult to track and intercept.

The United States, the United Kingdom and Australia announced in early April that they were working together via the recently created security alliance known as AUKUS to develop hypersonic missiles.

Also in April, the Russian military said it successfully performed the first test of a new intercontinental ballistic missile, a weapon President Vladimir Putin said would make the West “think twice” before taking any aggressive actions against Russia.

According to U.S. military officials, Russia has now used hypersonic air-to-surface missiles in its military campaign in Ukraine, in what could be the first time these missiles have been used on the battlefield.

An expert NewsNation spoke with said Russia generally use conflicts to test their latest weapons systems.

So what does that mean for the arms race between countries?

According to a professor of international affairs, the U.S. is leading the charge in hypersonics in at least one sense.

“It’s ahead of the pack in terms of the wide range of technologies being developed in the hypersonic program,” said Dinshaw Mistry, associate professor of international affairs, University of Cincinnati. “It’s slightly behind Russia in actually fielding them. But … that does not really matter in terms of battlefield effectiveness.”

Most military analysts say China and Russia have distinctly aggressive intentions.

Their objectives require dominating their neighbors and ensuring that the U.S. encounters significant obstacles in conducting a counterattack.

The U.S., on the other hand, must be able to deter at all levels of war, and all levels of escalation.

Hypersonics are only one, albeit critical, part of a broader American strategy.

The Hill and Reuters contributed to this report.

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