News / USA

Experimental US Hypersonic Weapon Destroyed Seconds After Launch

FILE - This image courtesy of Alaska Aerospace Corporation shows an illustration of a new launch pad at the Kodiak Launch Complex, June 29, 2012.
FILE - This image courtesy of Alaska Aerospace Corporation shows an illustration of a new launch pad at the Kodiak Launch Complex, June 29, 2012.
Reuters

A hypersonic weapon being developed by the U.S. military was destroyed four seconds after its launch from a test range in Alaska early on Monday after controllers detected a problem with the system, the Pentagon said.

The weapon is part of a program to create a missile that will destroy targets anywhere on Earth within an hour of getting data and permission to launch.

The mission was aborted to ensure public safety, and no one was injured in the incident, which occurred shortly after 4 a.m. EDT (0800 GMT) at the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska, said Maureen Schumann, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Defense Department.

"We had to terminate," Schumann said. "The weapon exploded during takeoff and fell back down in the range complex," she added.

The incident caused an undetermined amount of damage to the launch facility, Schumann said.

It was a setback for the U.S. program, which some analysts see as countering the growing development of ballistic missiles by Iran and North Korea but others say is part of an arms race with China, which tested a hypersonic system in January.

Riki Ellison, founder of the nonprofit Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, said he did not think Monday's failure would lead to the program's termination.

"This is such an important mission and there is promise in this technology," he said. He said officials aborted the mission after detecting a fault in the computers.

Anthony Cordesman, a defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, said the technology was best suited for use against smaller, less-developed countries with missiles.

"The United States has never assumed that these ... are going to be systems that you can use against a power like China by themselves," he said. "For a country like Iran or North Korea, they could be a very significant deterrent."

James Acton, a defense analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the Pentagon had never been clear about the mission for the weapon, with some viewing it as an effective tool against terrorists and others seeing it as a counter to China or Iran and North Korea.

While hypersonic weapons are unlikely to be fielded for a decade, Acton said the fact that Washington and Beijing were both testing the weapons indicated there was a real potential for an arms race.

"I believe the U.S. program is significantly more sophisticated than the Chinese program," he said.

The weapon, known as the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon, was developed by Sandia National Laboratory and the U.S. Army.

Schumann said it included a glide body mounted on a three-stage, solid-propellant booster system known as STARS, for Strategic Target System.

In a previous test in November 2011, the craft had successfully flown from Hawaii to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, she said. On Monday, it was supposed to fly from Alaska to the Kwajalein Atoll.

Acton said no conclusions could be drawn about the weapon based on Monday's accident because the launcher detonated before the glide vehicle could be deployed.

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid