A U.S Army Soldier lifts the hydraulic launching system on the new Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) during Operation Thunderbolt Strike at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, March 3, 2023. (Photo Credit: Spc. Chandler Coats, U.S. Army)

US Army and Navy Hypersonic Weapon Test Delayed Once More

A test flight of the US Army’s Dark Eagle hypersonic missile test set to launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Wednesday was pushed back for the third time.

On September 6th, the Department of Defense postponed what was expected to be the launch of the US Army’s Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon System (LRHW). This test was scheduled to demonstrate the Army’s Weapon Control System and Battery Operations Center. It was also set to be the first test to be launched from the Army’s transporter-erector-launcher.

“On Sept. 6, the Department planned to conduct a flight test at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, to inform our hypersonic technology development. As a result of pre-flight checks, the test did not occur,” The Office of the Secretary of Defense told Florida Today, which first reported on the postponement. “The Department was able to successfully collect data on the performance of the ground hardware and software that will inform the continued progress toward fielding offensive hypersonic weapons. Delivering hypersonic weapons remains a top priority for the Department.”

The flight test, which is designated Joint Flight Campaign 2 (JFC-2), has been postponed three times so far. It was originally scheduled for late last year, but the missile experienced preflight issues and the test was postponed to early 2023. The test was again postponed from early 2023 to a later date in 2023 due to a battery issue that was discovered before the flight test.

While the program hasn’t suffered a test flight failure since 2022, the delays are hampering fielding efforts as Washington moves fast to catch up with China, which fielded the DF-17, its first hypersonic weapon system, in 2019.

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