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The hunt for Putin’s Avangard: Lockheed Martin moves from words to deeds

In the field of hypersound, the United States breathes in the back of the head Russia and China.

The Bloomberg Agency reported on the real successes of the American defense industry in creating hypersonic weapons. Mike White, assistant to the head of the Department of Defense for Hypersonic Technology, is quoted as saying that at least four flight tests of hypersonic missiles will be conducted this year, based on various technical concepts. It is assumed that these prototypes of real weapons will reach five sound speeds, which is equal to the lower limit of the hypersonic range.


The states rushed to catch Russia and China far gone in this segment of military equipment with enormous agility. What is objectively characterized by an unplanned increase in spending on this topic. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the Pentagon will increase funding for hypersonic weapons programs by $ 5 billion in 2020 in addition to a five-year budget plan. Esper, explaining this attraction of generosity, said that hypersonic technology is the key to China’s “great confrontation”.


Americans knocked forehead Russian winged car with the “Brave Eagle” and “Golden Eagle”.

– We have significantly increased the number of flight tests and ground experiments, – said the Pentagon chief, “in order to accelerate the process of creating hypersonic weapons of various types with the aim of transferring them to the armed forces years earlier than previously planned.


Esperu is echoed by Pentagon Research and Development Director Mark Lewis: “We need to fly more often. And at the same time you need to be prepared for the fact that during the test there will be failures. Failures are a rewarding experience, thanks to which we will learn how to eliminate errors and will move forward. ”


The creation of hypersonic weapons in the United States has become, one might say, a nationwide affair, to which dozens of companies of various sizes are connected – from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and the Pentagon agency DARPA to manufacturers of bench equipment.


Even students are involved in the common cause. A Pentagon-funded consortium has been created, which at the first stage includes four universities: University of Notre Dame, Purdue University, Texas A&M University, University of Minnesota. This year, the consortium has been allocated $ 100 million.


“Bloomberg” quotes Mike White that 2020 was a turning point in the program for the development of hypersonic weapons. If before the matter did not go beyond the framework of design and ground testing of components, now the phase of flight testing of prototypes intended for various branches of the armed forces is beginning – for the US Army (Ground Forces), Air Force and Navy. The general contractors of all these areas are Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.


The increase in funding for hypersonic programs was made possible largely due to the “educational” activities of senior Pentagon officials in the corridors of the legislature. So, in 2018, the congressmen were greatly impressed by the speech of Deputy Secretary of Defense Michael Griffin, who said that China conducted 20 times more hypersonic tests than the United States.


The congressmen were even more impressed by the statement that Russia had already installed maneuvering hypersonic nuclear blocks on 19 intercontinental ballistic missiles. True, Griffin ran a little ahead – equipping the ICBM UR-100N with Avangard gliders began last year.


The United States does not yet have hypersonic weapons, but the best army minds are already thinking where to deploy them and against whom to use them. U.S. Army (Army) Secretary of State Ryan McCarthy is confident that long-range hypersonic weapons must be deployed as part of the emerging Pacific domain, which aims to conduct electronic, cybernetic, information and missile operations against China. That’s right, because the US military concept suggests that the best defense is aggression.


It must be said that Ryan McCarthy is talking about a very specific weapon, which is being created as part of the LRHW project (Long Range Hypersonic Weapons). It is created primarily for the Army, and later it is supposed to be adapted for the Navy, and then the Air Force.


It is created primarily for the Army, and later it is supposed to be adapted for the Navy, and then the Air Force.


A lot is known about LRHW, due to the fact that the recently created Directorate for Accelerated Development and Critical Technologies demonstrated infographics at open conferences, accompanied by explanations.


The LRHW complex should be mobile, located on the chassis for the modified Patriot air defense launcher. At the launcher are two transport-launch containers with missiles. The TPK houses a promising solid-fuel medium-range missile – AUR (All-Up-Round). The missile is equipped with a hypersonic combat non-motor planning block – C-HGB (Common Hypersonic Glide Body).


After launch, the rocket accelerates the glider to a speed of about 8 M, and, having separated from the rocket, it begins an independent flight with maneuvering and natural braking in the atmosphere. However, in the final section of the flight, the C-HGB should retain, although slightly lower, but still hypersonic speed.


LRHW specifications are not disclosed. But according to various estimates, the speed of the warhead can reach 8-10 M, and the flight range is 4-5 thousand km.


According to the plans of the US Army, the beginning of flight tests should begin in early 2021. And their end – at the beginning of 2023. Then the first LRHW battery will be formed, which will include 4 launchers with 8 missiles.


As you can see, almost everything is ready on paper. However, practice does not always coincide with theory. The fact is that about the same weapon – AHW (Advanced Hypersonic Weapon) – Americans have already tested. Two launches took place – in 2011 and in 2014. During the first test, partially successful, the warhead reached a speed of 8 M and flew 3,700 km. However, this only checked the possibility of a stable flight without any maneuvering and aiming at the target. The second test was unsuccessful, the glider flew the wrong way, and a command was issued for self-destruction. After that, the AHW program was closed.


For the Air Force, its own hypersonic weapons are also being created. And with fantastic speed. The development of the aeroballistic missile AGM-183A began in the fall of 2018, and the triumphant completion of the tests is scheduled for the end of 2021. Although at the moment, the B-52 bomber has only once lifted into the air not the missile itself, but its layout, checking the aerodynamics at subsonic speed.


The concept is the same as that of LRHW – a solid-fuel rocket accelerates the TBG (Tactical Boost Glide) warhead to hypersonic speed (this time up to 20 M), after which TBG, maneuvering, rushes to the target. Moreover, the firing range does not exceed 1000 km.


For the Navy, its own program is being implemented – CPS (Conventional Prompt Strike). The principle of operation of this weapon is exactly the same – the rocket accelerates the warhead to hypersonic speed and it, maneuvering, flies to the target. It is supposed to partially equip with missiles not only the multi-purpose submarines “Virginia”, but also strategic “Ohio”. Since the underwater start is more complicated, the completion of the program is scheduled for 2024.

Are these super-optimistic plans real? Time will tell.

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