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Prompt Global Strike missile test failure

written by australianaviation.com.au | April 29, 2010
A DARPA image of the HTV-2.
A DARPA image of the HTV-2.

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.”

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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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