WASHINGTON - The Pentagon held a successful test flight of a flying bomb that travels faster than the speed of sound and will give military planners the ability to strike targets anywhere in the world in less than an hour.
Launched by rocket from Hawaii at 1130 GMT on Nov. 17, the "Advanced Hypersonic Weapon," or AHW, glided through the upper atmosphere over the Pacific "at hypersonic speed" before hitting its target on the Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands, a Pentagon statement said. Kwajalein is about 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii.
The Pentagon did not say what top speeds were reached by the vehicle, which unlike a ballistic missile is maneuverable.
Scientists classify hypersonic speeds as those that exceed Mach 5 - or five times the speed of sound - 3,728 miles an hour.
The test aimed to gather data on "aerodynamics, navigation, guidance and control, and thermal protection technologies," said Lt. Col. Melinda Morgan, a Pentagon spokeswoman.
The U.S. Army's AHW project is part of "Prompt Global Strike" program which seeks to give the U.S. military the means to deliver conventional weapons anywhere in the world within an hour.
On Aug. 11, the Pentagon test flew another hypersonic glider dubbed HTV-2, which is capable of flying 27,000 kilometers per hour, but it was a failure. The AHW's range is less than that of the HTV-2, the Congressional Research Service said in a report, without providing specifics.
The Pentagon has invested $239.9 million in the Global Strike program this year, including $69 million for the flying bomb tested Nov. 17, CRS said