HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The U.S. Army and Navy are teaming up to test a hypersonic glide vehicle next year, according to an Army official.
The “offensive weapon technology” is part of the Department of Defense’s Conventional Prompt Global Strike demonstration program, said Julie Schumacher, deputy to the commander of Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command (SMDC/ARSTRAT).
According to DOD’s fiscal 2017 budget request, hypersonic glide experiments “could lead to a system with the following characteristics: effects on targets in a very short period of time from execution order; non-ballistic flight over the majority of the flight path; positive control from launch to impact; adequate cross-range/maneuverability to avoid overflight issues; [and] controlled stage drop over broad ocean area.”
Two earlier Army hypersonic tests had mixed results. In November 2011, the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW) successfully flew at speeds “greater than Mach 5” from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii, to the Reagan Test Site in the Marshall Islands, Schumacher said Aug. 18 at the annual Space and Missile Defense Symposium here. But in August 2014, an AHW flight was terminated shortly after liftoff at the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska due to a launch vehicle glitch.
Turning to the topic of small satellites, Schumacher said the Army plans to deploy a Kestrel Eye nanosatellite demonstrator from the International Space Station in early 2017. The 22-pound Kestrel Eye is designed to provide real-time imagery to ground forces.
Schumacher also said that the SMDC Nanosatellite Program (SNaP) launched three loaf-of-bread-sized satellites in October 2015 from Vandenberg AFB, Calif. SNaP is intended to demonstrate the ability to maintain beyond-line-of-site communications for troops if larger satellites are lost or disrupted. The SNaP satellites cost about $500,000 each.