Russia has received a lot of attention recently over its newly deployed, and eagerly hyped, sea-based ‘Zircon’ hypersonic missile. But, not to be outdone, in addition to its air and sea-launched hypersonics preparing to deploy, the U.S. is also about to field its own mobile, land-based, truck mounted, hypersonic weapon for the U.S. Army by 2023.
This new Long Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) by Lockheed Martin will reportedly travel at Mach 5 (3,800 mph or sixty-miles per minute), and skim along the upper edge of the earth’s atmosphere, before striking its targets. Some sources claim its speed will be much faster.
A report from Defence Blog states,
The new weapon system will consist of four transporter erector launchers (TEL), each installed on a modified M870 40-ton trailer, and command posts. Each TEL will have two canisterized hypersonic weapons at the ready and the unit will have an unspecified number of additional missiles on hand.
Lockheed recently provided computer generated video and imagery of its missile system.
Defence Blog adds that:
The new weapon system will provide a critical strategic weapon and a powerful deterrent against adversary capabilities for the U.S. Army. Hypersonic missiles can reach the top of the Earth’s atmosphere and remain just beyond the range of air and missile defense systems until they are ready to strike, and by then it’s too late to react. Extremely accurate, ultrafast, maneuverable and survivable, hypersonics can strike anywhere in the world within minutes.
But as the quickening global race for hypersonic weapons continues, a bigger question remains, “how do you defend against them?”
Chris Osborne at Warrior Maven, notes that, “Weapons developers are now exploring new long-range, high fidelity sensors able to establish what’s called a ‘continuous track’ of enemy weapons flying through the atmosphere by pooling data and enabling otherwise stovepiped radar systems.”
We can imagine F-35 stealth fighters playing a major role in this. Either way, expect much more news on both offensive and defensive hypersonic technology in coming months.