The US Prompt Global Strike missile concept suffered a setback on April 22 after a test vehicle on a test flight from Vandenberg AFB in California to Kwajelin Atoll in the Marshall Islands disappeared somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.
The Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2), which is launched into the upper atmosphere atop a rocket booster and is designed to hit a target anywhere on earth with a conventional warhead within an hour, is a wedge shaped glider which effectively ‘skips’ along the upper atmosphere at Mach 20.
A DARPA spokesman said contact was lost with the HTV-2 nine minutes after launch after the vehicle successfully separated from its booster and “achieved controlled flight within the atmosphere at over Mach 20.”
Other options for the Prompt Global Strike mission include arming ICBMs with conventional warheads, and an air-launched powered missile like the planned X-51A Waverider, first flight of which has been delayed but is currently scheduled for May.
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