A hypersonic weapon being developed by the US military was
destroyed four seconds after its launch from a test range in
Alaska after controllers detected a problem with the
aircraft, the Pentagon says.
The craft was destroyed to ensure public safety, and no one
was injured in the incident, which occurred shortly after 4am
on Monday (local time) at the Kodiak Launch Complex in
Alaska, said Maureen Schumann, a spokeswoman for the US
"We had to terminate. That's correct," Schumann said.
"The weapon exploded during takeoff and fell back down in the
range complex," she said, adding that the test craft was
destroyed in the first four seconds of its launch.
"I don't know the exact altitude, but it was not very far,"
The weapon was developed by Sandia National Laboratory and
the US Army as part of the military's "Conventional Prompt
Global Strike" technology development program, which is
seeking to build a weapon that can destroy targets anywhere
on Earth within an hour of getting data and permission to
Schumann said the craft, known as the Advanced Hypersonic
Weapon, was one of several platforms being tested as part of
the Prompt Global Strike program. The craft had successfully
flown from Hawaii to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall
Islands during a previous test in November 2011, she said.
The weapon, described by the Army as a first-of-its-kind
glide vehicle, was supposed to fly from Alaska to the
Kwajalein Atoll during Monday's test.
Schumann said that, in addition to the previous successful
flight test, the hpersonic weapon had "gone through a series
of ground testing and modeling and simulation." She said she
wouldn't characterize Monday's terminated flight as a
significant setback for the prompt global strike program.
"This was one concept that we were looking at in a range of
possible CPGS (Conventional Prompt Global Strike) concepts,"
she said. "The whole CPGS program is event-driven, not time-
or schedule-driven. So we learn, we keep learning from a
variety of ground testing and modeling and simulation and
other tests done on the range of concepts under CPGS."
Schumann said officials from the program, the US Army, Navy
and Missile Defense Agency were conducting an extensive
investigation to determine the cause of the accident.
The investigation will inform future tests for the weapon and
other prompt global strike vehicles, she said.