The U.S. Army aired new video of its secretive hypersonic missile on Tuesday, a rare look at what President Donald Trump has previously described as America’s “super duper missile.” And while we still don’t know much about the missile’s specs, hypersonic missiles are almost certainly the future of military posturing during the New Cold War, as Russia is developing something very similar.
The video, first reported by the Drive, was recorded by the U.S. Army on March 19 and shows a hypersonic test launch from Hawaii in what’s being called Flight Experiment 2. The Army coordinated its launch with the Navy and earlier reports indicate it will reach Mach 17 when it’s ready.
A very short five-second clip of the test launch was released back in March but this is the first time we’re seeing the missile so close, along with what it looks like on impact, as you can see in the video below. Admittedly, it’s all pretty grainy.
— CSIS Missile Defense (@Missile_Defense) August 4, 2020
President Trump has previously said this “super duper missile” has an accuracy of 35 centimetres from its “centre point,” but it’s important to remember that Trump is a pathological liar and we really have no idea. As the Drive notes, there’s so much the public still doesn’t know about this missile launch, despite its public airing on Tuesday by Lieutenant General Neil Thurgood during an unclassified video teleconference.
How fast did this missile go during its test in March? The military won’t say. How far did it travel? The military won’t say. Is this little more than a New Cold War pissing contest where the stakes include the complete destruction of the entire world with nuclear weapons? Probably. But the military won’t say.
From the Drive:
Thurgood’s video montage ends with a clip of the boost-glide vehicle actually hitting its mark. “That is the explosion at the other end,” the Lieutenant General said. It’s not clear whether this shows the detonation of an actual explosive warhead or simply the kinetic effects of the vehicle slamming into the target area at hypersonic speed.
Russia, one of America’s adversaries in the New Cold War, is developing its own hypersonic weapons and is similarly cagey about the specifics. But even if these weapons never get used, they’re great propaganda for both sides.
On that note, the U.S. tested another unarmed nuclear-capable ICBM early Tuesday morning from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California — something only picked up by local news outlets in central California and the military press. And the press release from the military included a strange mention of the covid-19 pandemic.
“This launch demonstrates that we are able to provide the range support needed to facilitate this test during peacetime operations in the midst of COVID-19 operations,” Col. Anthony Mastalir, 30th Space Wing commander, said in a press release posted to the military’s media distribution service, DVIDS. “Signifying that our nuclear enterprise is safe, secure, reliable, effective and ready to defend the United States and our allies.”
America’s missile tests don’t really make national news anymore. But you can sure as shit bet that you’ll hear about it the next time North Korea, China, or Russia test launches a potentially nuclear weapon for fun.
Correction: This post originally stated the speed of sound is Mach 5, which is incorrect. Gizmodo regrets the error.