The United States military launched a test flight of the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW) on November 17. The AHW launched by rocket, glided through the upper atmosphere above Mach 5, before successfully hitting the intended target.
The AHW is part of the US military’s “Prompt Global Strike” program designed to allow a targeted strike to be delivered anywhere in the world within one hour. The AHW replaces the Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2) hypersonic glider which failed an August test flight.
Unlike a ballistic missile, the AHW glides at a relatively flat trajectory through the upper atmosphere instead of arcing into space. This technology has promise for use as a reentry mechanism for space flights.