AUSA NEWS: Army Hypersonic Weapons Demonstrating Super Accuracy

By Jon Harper
Common hypersonic glide body launches from Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii.

Hypersonic weapons under development for the Army have shown an extremely high degree of accuracy during testing, the service’s top official said Oct. 13.

Hypersonics are expected to travel at speeds greater than Mach 5, be highly maneuverable and capable of overwhelming enemy air-and-missile defenses. The Army aims to field them by fiscal year 2023. They are part of its long-range precision fires portfolio, which is the service's No. 1 modernization priority. The other branches of the military are also pursuing these types of systems.

“Hypersonic missiles are hitting their targets with a variance of only a mere six inches,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said during a speech at the Association of the United States Army’s annual conference, which was held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

McCarthy did not say how far the missiles traveled during the tests, how many tests have been conducted, where they were conducted, or when they took place.

The Defense Department announced in March that the Army and Navy had jointly tested a hypersonic glide body, also known as C-HGB, in a flight experiment conducted from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii.

The Pentagon is now spending billions of dollars on hypersonics technology as it seeks to keep pace with competitors such as China and Russia.

The Army’s investments in its top modernization priorities are paying off, McCarthy said. They also include next-generation combat vehicles, future vertical lift, the network, air-and-missile defense and soldier lethality.

Tranches of advanced equipment such as the Integrated Visual Augmentation System and Integrated Battle Command System are already “within reach” of soldiers who will be receiving them in larger numbers, he said.

McCarthy touted a recent milestone for “Project Convergence,” which is being led by Gen. John “Mike” Murray, commander of Army Futures Command.

“Project Convergences focuses on increasing the speed at which our different platforms integrate in real time and provide the best response to the right shooter by computing at the edge,” McCarthy said. “This effort will synchronize the entire modernization portfolio.”

In late September, the Army conducted its first successful iteration of the initiative at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona.

“The results were remarkable,” McCarthy said.

Using advanced computing to better link sensors and shooters “has enabled us to reduce the cycle time of five minutes from long-range precision fires and assets to targets in less than a minute,” he told reporters during a roundtable after his speech.

Additional Project Convergence events are slated for the future.

“This campaign of learning is helping us bring the designers and the scientists together with the soldiers at the edge, and it has really compressed the span time for us in developing our weapons systems,” McCarthy said.

The service is also revamping and reorganizing its formations. In the future, dispersed units will be expected to be able to operate independently while armed with cutting edge technology and information-sharing capabilities, McCarthy noted.

The service has created a Multi-Domain Task Force that is scaling up to begin receiving the Army’s 31 “signature systems” which are coming online.

“We are moving away … from incremental improvements in modernization in order to meet the challenges we face in the great power competition environment we live in today,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville told reporters.

However, tough fiscal decisions will be necessary as new equipment is rolled out and the service rapidly scales its formations, McCarthy noted.

At a recent event hosted by the Hudson Institute on Oct. 7, McCarthy said future Army budget requests will reflect expectations that defense spending will remain flat in coming years as the nation wrestles with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Legacy systems will be on the chopping block to help free up funds for the top modernization priorities.

“If you have a flat fiscal environment, there’s nowhere else to go but to cut internally,” he said. "You can't do everything. So we have to divest on those key platforms."

McCarthy acknowledged that the proposed cuts will be “contentious.”

Meanwhile, the Army is in a “war for talent,” McConville said during the roundtable, and the service is pursuing new initiatives to improve quality of life for service members and their families. “You'll see the resources start to align over the next couple of years” for those efforts, he added.

— Additional reporting by Connie Lee

Topics: Army News

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