Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States will cooperate in the field of hypersonic weapons – Zone Militaire

Despite launching their Conventional Prompt Global Strike program, which was expected to result in the ability to hit a target anywhere in the world in less than an hour, in the early 2000s, the United States took lag in the development of hypersonic weapons, especially compared to Russia and China.

However, on April 5, DARPA, the Pentagon’s innovation agency, announced the success of a March trial by Lockheed-Martin and Aerojet Rocketdyne under the HAWC program. [Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept]. The aim is to develop a hypersonic missile powered by a supersonic combustion ramjet. During this test, and after being dropped by a B-52H Stratofortress bomber, the machine reached an altitude of 65,000 feet [soit près de 20’000 mètre] and traveled 300 nautical miles, flying at a cruising speed greater than Mach 5.

This is the second successful test carried out under the HAWC program, after the one carried out in September 2021, with a missile developed by Raytheon and Northrop Grumman.

In addition to the HAWC, other hypervelocity weapons projects are being developed in the United States, with varying success. Thus, the Common Hypersonic Glide Body [C-HGB], common to the US Army and the US Navy, should give rise to a hypersonic glider launched by a missile. And the Air Launched Rapid Response Weapon [ARRW ou ARROW, encore appelé AGM-183A] has experienced several failures in recent months.

In addition to these programs, the United States has conducted another…in cooperation with Australia. Called SCIFIRE [Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment]it must allow the development of a conventional hypersonic cruise missile that can be carried by existing fighter-bombers [comme le F-35A par exemple]even the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.

Last January, the Australian Ministry of Defense inaugurated a research center dedicated to hypersonic weapons at Eagle Farm, near Brisbane, with the objective of supporting collaboration between defence, universities and industrialists, including Thales Australia, who plays a leading role in this program.

These efforts will now be joined by the United Kingdom, under the AUKUS strategic alliance, the creation of which was announced in September 2021.

“We have […] engaged today [05/04] to begin new trilateral cooperation on hypersonic, counter-hypersonic and electronic warfare capabilities as well as expand information sharing and deepen cooperation on defense innovation,” the President announced. US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a joint statement.

“These initiatives will add to our ongoing efforts to deepen cooperation on cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and undersea capabilities. […]. As we advance our work on these and other critical defense and security capabilities, we will seek opportunities to engage allies and close partners,” the three officials added. .

According to Reuters, British officials have indicated that the UK will not join the SCIFIRE program, at least for the time being. Instead, they explained that the three AUKUS members would “work together on research and development to expand their options.”

In terms of technologies related to hypersonic flight, the United Kingdom can rely on BAE Systems and Rolls Royce… but also and above all on the company Reaction Engines, which is working on the SABER engine. [Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine]which claims to be “revolutionary”.

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Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States will cooperate in the field of hypersonic weapons – Zone Militaire


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