Oct. 14 (UPI) — U.S. hypersonic missiles can strike within six inches of a target after traveling thousands of miles at Mach 5 or faster, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said.
Speaking to a conference of the U.S. Association of the Army on Tuesday, McCarthy referred to a Mar. 19 test of the missile, which was fired from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. It flew at hypersonic speed, defined as five or more times the speed of sound, before striking its “designated impact point,” the Army said.
“Hypersonic missiles are hitting their targets with a variance of only a mere 6 inches,” McCarthy said on Tuesday.
His comments came a week after Russia announced the successful test-firing of its Zircon hypersonic missile, striking a target 300 miles away after traveling at over 6,100 mph.
McCarthy offered information, not previously announced, from the Flight Experiment-2 test of the rocket-boosted Block 0Common Hypersonic Glide Body in March.
The test demonstrated that the weapon, which consists of a warhead, guidance system and thermal protection, can fly five times the speed of sound, maneuver in varying flight paths and azimuths to avoid detection before striking its target.
The announcement of the missile’s accuracy suggests that the long-range weapon can travel within the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds, but the level of precision indicates that it was not tested with a warhead designed to produce a large area of damage or destruction, experts said.