Darpa, the US army's scientific wing, recently announced successful tests of what it called a HAWC missile (Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept)

The US Army’s Scientific Wing Darpa announced recent successful testing of a HAWC (Hypersonic-breathing Weapon Concept).


There are a few hypersonic weapons programs within the US Navy, Army, Air Force. However most are in advanced stages and very secretive. 

But the programs were more traditional hypersonic weapons which strike high altitudes than any orbital bombment systems, which strike from space. The Chinese have been revealed to have created tis week. 

US Hypersonic weapons have never been successful tested. The Air Force’s GM-183ARRW has only recently been validated. It is intended to be fired from large-sized bomber aircraft. 

This supersonic combustion turbo ramjet can then propel it to hypersonic speeds. Donald Trump refered to a ‘super duper missile’ while in office and this is believed to be the AGM-183 ARRW.

It is anticipated that the Navy’s Long Range Hypersonic Weapon, a submarine-launched Long Range Hypersonic Weapon, will be in operation by 2023. The weapon has a range 1,725 miles.  

Darpa, the US army’s scientific wing, recently announced successful tests of what it called a HAWC missile (Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept) but kept details such as range, speed and payload secret. 

This missile makes use of oxygen from the atmosphere to fuel its rocket – it is the first test success of this class of weapon since 2013.

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency(DARPA), stated that the missile built by Raytheon was launched from an aircraft seconds’ prior to Northrop Grumman’s scramjet engine. 

This engine compresses the air entering it and adds hydrocarbon fuel. It can achieve speeds up to 1,700m per second or five times that of sound. 

Earlier this year, a test of a hypersonic missile from the U.S. Air Force was abandoned after it was unable to complete its launch sequence.  

The Pentagon flew a hypersonic glider vehicle to Hawaii’s Pacific Missile Range Facility on March 19, last year. It deemed the test a success and “a major milestone towards the department’s goal of fielding hypersonic warfighting capabilities in the early- to mid-2020s.”

Contrary to Russia, America says that its hypersonic weapon technology isn’t being developed for nuclear weapons. A U.S. hypersonic weapon must be much more precise, which will pose additional technical challenges.

NASA’s unmanned experimental hypersonic plane X-43 reached 7.366 mph (Mach 9.6) in 2004 using a scramjet engine. This was the current record.

DailyMail.com published a report in 2019 that said the engine for Northrop Grumman’s missile, Raytheon-developed by Northrop Grumman, would be made using a 3D printer. 

DARPA announced last year that it is working with Aerojet Rocketdyne to create a hypersonic missile interceptor capable of intercepting enemy missiles in mid-air. 

Russia recently launched a hypersonic missile, the Zircon, from a submarine and has the hypersonic nuclear-capable Avangard missiles

Russia has recently launched a hypersonic weapon, the Zircon from a submarine, and also owns the hypersonic, nuclear-capable Avangard missiles 


Russia launched the Zircon hypersonic missile from a submarine recently. Since late 2019, the Avangard hypersonic-capable missiles have been in service. Avangard missiles can reach Mach 27, and change their course and elevation.  

Russia’s hypersonic missile Zircon has a range of 621 miles and a speed at 9,800mph.

The missile, however, flies lower than the atmosphere and consumes fuel to propel itself at hypersonic speeds. This is in contrast to the Earth’s orbit. 

Earlier this month, Russia  announced it has successfully test-fired the Zircon from a nuclear submarine for the first time. 

According to Moscow’s defence ministry, the 6,670 mph missile hit a target in Barents Sea. 

Russia claimed that it has successfully flown the missile’s new age from both a frigate (the Admiral Gorshkov) and from a coast mount. However, it was not launched previously from a submarine.

Moscow’s state-controlled TV identified The Zircon to be Vladimir Putin’s choice weapon for destroying coastal American cities in an event of an nuclear conflict.

He declared that this missile was ‘truly unrivalled anywhere in the globe’ and Russia boasts it can be ‘unstoppable’ by Western defenses.

Putin declared the first time that an array of supersonic weapons had been developed in 2018. He claimed they were capable of hitting almost all points in the globe and could evade the missile defenses of the United States. 

The Zircon will enter service in the next year and first deploy via the Admiral Golovko ship, which is equipped with stealth-technology. 

The missile’s primary purpose is to destroy enemy ships. Reports suggest that its range may be between 188-620 miles.

However, there are unconfirmed reports that its actual range is approximately 1,200 miles.

Moscow has warned of foreign spies trying to steal the secrets and kept secret design and development of this missile system.

This is just one of many hypersonic missiles Russia has deployed, including the Sarmat (188-tonne) – also known as Satan-2 in the West – that will be Russia’s largest nuclear weapon. It was tested in autumn and is due to deploy next year.

In May, Russia said it tested three ‘invincible’ hypersonic ‘Satan 2’ missiles that some have said could wipe out areas the size of England and Wales. 

China launched the dummy weapon into space on board a Long March 2C rocket (pictured) during a test in mid-August which it did not disclose at the time and was only revealed at the weekend by security analysts assigned to work out its purpose

China sent the mockup weapon (pictured) into space aboard a Long March 2C rocket in August. It did this during an experiment that it didn’t disclose and which was revealed only by analysts who were assigned to investigate its purpose.


China test-fired its hypersonic orbital bombardment device in August. It reportedly can reach speeds of up to 21,000 mph, and it strikes from outer space.  

China’s new weapon, which is based on the concept of delivering a warhead to orbit before it hits a target, was originally developed by Soviets in 1960s. 

Called a Fractional Orbital Bombardment System, or FOBS, it was developed to evade powerful US radar arrays and missile defence systems.

These systems are designed to detect ICBM launch and then track their trajectory into space. After tracking the missiles, they can fire at warheads in an attempt to blow them up.

It is possible due to the predictable trajectory of ICBMs (and their warheads) that rises into space – which makes them very easy to spot. Defence crews can calculate where they will be aimed in order to shoot them out of sight. 

FOBS aims to counter these defenses by firing warheads in a more flat trajectory, assisted by Earth’s gravity. 

These warheads are not detected by radar detector arrays so they can be tracked more easily. This makes it harder for warheads to be shot down, as their trajectory can’t always be calculated.  

Use of orbit increases a warhead’s range to potentially infinite. This means it can be shot at any target, from anywhere. This allows for avoiding These radar systems point generally at a fixed spot above the sky. In America’s case it is over the North Pole.

Meanwhile, China  has also unveiled a hypersonic medium-range missile, the DF-17, in 2019, which can travel around 2,000 kilometres and can carry nuclear warheads.

In October, China deployed the DF 17 missile to coastal areas in preparation for a possible invasion of Taiwan.  

According to earlier reports, the weapon is capable to travel up to 2,500 kilometers (1,550 mi) at speeds of 7,680 miles an hour (12,360 km per hour), or 10 times that of sound, when carrying a nuke warhead.

The aircraft carriers in its vicinity have been called “death sentences” by the media.

Hypersonic missiles can travel more than five times faster in the upper atmosphere, or approximately 6,200km per hour (3.850 mph). Although it is slower than intercontinental missiles, the hypersonic glide vehicles allow for faster maneuvering towards targets and away from defenses.

The combination of a glide vehicle and a missile which can partially launch it into orbit (a “fractional orbital bombardment” system, or FOBS), may be a way to eliminate adversaries’ reaction times and other defence mechanisms.

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) are able to carry nuclear warheads using ballistic trajectories. They travel into space, but do not reach orbit. 

China claimed Monday that August’s test of a spacecraft was not an attack missile, but a routine exercise.