Army hypersonic missile to fly 'at least' 2,775km

By Ethan Sterenfeld / May 13, 2021 at 11:38 AM

The Army's upcoming Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon will have a range of "at least" 2,775 kilometers, or about 1,724 miles, a service spokesman confirmed to Inside Defense May 12.

The weapon's range was first reported by Breaking Defense. The Army spokesman confirmed that reporting in an email to Inside Defense.

The service plans to field its first battery of eight hypersonic missiles in 2023. The commander for the battery has been chosen, and soldiers have begun training for the weapons, the Army has previously said.

Many details of the LRHW's capabilities have not been publicly released. An official with the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, which is responsible for the LRHW, would not provide the maximum altitude or top speed of the missile in an interview last month.

Hypersonic weapons will be crucial for the Army to maintain overmatch with near-peer adversaries such as China and Russia, Brig. Gen. John Rafferty, director of the Long Range Precision Fires Cross-Functional Team, said in August.

Long-range precision fires has emerged as the first of the Army's six modernization priorities in recent years. In addition to the hypersonic weapons, the Army is developing new versions of existing howitzers, rockets and missiles that have greater ranges than their predecessors.

Army leaders have defended the focus on long-range fires amid criticism from an Air Force general and questions about whether the Army is unnecessarily duplicating the capabilities of other services.

"To me, this is about providing options to a combatant commander," Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said in March. "When you provide multiple options, which causes the adversary to deal with multiple dilemmas, you have a far better chance of protecting the force and achieving your objectives than having one organization go alone."

Hypersonic weapons and other long-range fires will be critical to defeating enemy anti-access and area-denial systems, especially in the Indo-Pacific, McConville has said. The first hypersonic battery is expected to be fielded with a multidomain task force that the Army has dedicated to the Pacific.