"We have nothing to announce at this time."
Early Warning System
It appears that the US military is about to launch something from the Space Force base in Cape Canaveral — and that something may have huge implications for the next-gen arms race.
As Ars Technica reports, a series of mysterious navigational warnings out of the famous Florida base suggests that the military might be slated to test launch a long-range hypersonic missile across the Atlantic.
If so, the test would signal that the military has finalized its first ground-based hypersonic missile, known as the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon or LRHW. These weapon systems, which can be blasted more than 1,700 miles, are more easily navigable and better at hiding from radar — and the Pentagon's geopolitical rivals in Russia and China have excelled at creating and testing them.
Air and sea navigational warnings sent to mariners and pilots alike, as Ars and space expert Marco Langbroek pointed out, apparently look very much like a scheduled long-range hypersonic missile test the Army and Navy jointly planned for March of this year, which was scrubbed due to an apparent battery issue.
What's more, the flight path doesn't match anything planned by NASA, SpaceX, or the United Launch Alliance. That leaves only the military, Ars reasons, as the source of the warnings — and it's staying mum on its plans.
"We have nothing to announce at this time," a Defense Department spokesperson told the website. "Test dates and event details are not announced in advance."
That last bit may not be exactly true, however. As the report notes, the Army put out a press release a few weeks after the scrubbed test launch outlining "a full rehearsal of expeditionary hypersonic launch capabilities" that featured photos of the giant road battery for the missile.
In October 2021, Army secretary Christine Wormuth predicted that the fall of 2023 would be the "year of long-range precision fires" — and if Ars and its experts are right, that prediction may have been exactly spot-on.
To put it plainly, testing out the LHRW would be a major advent in the US military's high-tech arms race with Russia and China, due not only to those countries absolutely kicking the Americans' butts in the area, but also because these missiles are extremely powerful.
"Hypersonic weapons, capable of flying at speeds greater than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5), are highly maneuverable and operate at varying altitudes," the Army said in some specs released to Congress. "This provides the warfighter with an ability to strike targets hundreds and even thousands of miles away, in a matter of minutes, to defeat a wide range of high-value targets."
This LRHW is, clearly, a BFD — and it looks very much like the military is slated to test launch it any day now.
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