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U.S. Air Force detonates hypersonic missile warhead in test

A prototype warhead designed for AGM-183A hypersonic missile was successfully detonated in a test at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., this week. Photo by Giancarlo Casem/U.S. Air Force
A prototype warhead designed for AGM-183A hypersonic missile was successfully detonated in a test at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., this week. Photo by Giancarlo Casem/U.S. Air Force

July 9 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force successfully detonated a hypersonic missile warhead for the first time this week, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., announced.

The prototype warhead, designed for the in-development Air Launched Rapid Response Weapon -- a hypersonic missile -- was detonated for the first time in a ground test on Wednesday, The Drive reported.

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The AGM-183A missile, the official name of the Air Launched Rapid Response Weapon, is designed to deliver a nuclear warhead at up to five times the speed of sound.

The test was conducted by the Air Force's 780th Test Squadron, ahead of further tests of other parts of the weapon later this year. An test involving an unarmed version of the missile was aborted earlier this year, with another test planned for this month, according to Flight Global.

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"Some of the firsts were the new and unorthodox design and construction of the test arena, the test procedures and equipment, the warhead's fragmentation data collecting and the post-test data processing to ensure the warhead's effects have been accurately characterized," the Air Force said in a press release.

On June 9, the Defense Department said that development of the hypersonic missile program is accelerating but staying within its $6.6 billion budget.

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Two days later the DoD announced a missile defense review, to be completed by February 2022 "to correlate its needs against rising nuclear powers" and noting that "nations such as North Korea, Iran, Russia and China [are] all maturing their missile technology."

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Prior tests have concluded that an AGM-183A can be carried and launched from the wing of a B-1 bomber, and the U.S. Navy is seeking manufacturers to help integrate hypersonic missiles aboard its three Zumwalt-class stealth destroyers.

RELATED GAO: DoD should better coordinate hypersonic weapons programs

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