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Hypervelocity HIFiRE missile tests at Woomera counter ‘future threats’

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Australia has quietly concluded a set of test flights of a missile capable of burning through the skies at more than 10,000km/h — and still changing course.

 

Spoiler

Any missile — or aircraft — capable of moving at such speeds will have been and gone before any defensive system could react.

 

And while China and Russia have both been boasting of their own advances in the field, Australia has also been working away with the United States to perfect the technology.

 

Defence minister Marise Payne says in a statement released on her website that the $54 million Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HIFiRE) tests recently wrapped up in the skies above the remote South Australian town of Woomera.

 

By definition, hypersonic speeds are any above Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound), or 6174km/h.

 

“Hypersonic flight is more than five times the speed of sound and has the potential to revolutionise air travel, making it faster and cheaper to travel around the world and into space,” Ms Payne says.

 

“There are key military applications of this technology and by understanding hypersonic flight, the Australian Defence Force will be in a better position to respond to future threats.”

 

Australia and the United States have been working in partnership on hypervelocity flight for almost a decade. The first launch of one of its test vehicles was conducted in 2009, with subsequent tests including 2012 and 2016.

 

Top speeds obtained have reportedly been as high as Mach 8 (9878km/h).

 

But controlled hypersonic flight has proven to be a serious challenge.

 

A series of tests around the world have failed with vehicles becoming unstable before tumbling through the skies and breaking up.

 

Overcoming the issues have required advances in the propulsion systems, the strength of airframes, heat-resistant materials and refining aerodynamics and creating AI-controlled avionics both fast and subtle enough to direct a craft hurtling at such immense speeds.

 

“While this (HIFiRE 4) is the last in the HIFiRE series, Australia remains at the leading edge of hypersonics research, test and evaluation, thanks to the work of this dedicated team of Defence scientists and their industry and academic partners,” Ms Payne says.

 

Australia and the United States is now developing plans for the next phase of hypervelocity flight experiments, she says.

 

The experimental flight was tracked over the Woomera Test Range in SA’s Far North, where last month a private drone operator reported his drone had been mysteriously forced to the ground shortly before a large explosion in the distance created a mushroom cloud.

 

Then a fortnight ago a huge and unexplained fireball was seen over much of Outback SA.

 

The announcement comes just weeks after China announced the ‘success’ of its hypersonic missile program, saying it would now move to make operational missiles capable of flying so fast they were almost impossible to shoot down.

 

US Navy Pacific Command chief, Admiral Harry Harris, told a Congress hearing earlier this year: “I’m concerned about Chinese and Russian hypersonic weapons development, and I expressed those concerns in the right places. What we can do is to develop our own hypersonic weapons and improve our defences against theirs.”

 

The Woomera tests are no doubt part of that development objective.

 

And late last month, the United States Air Force Armament Directorate issued a notice asking for suggestions for future potential hypersonic weapons systems. Specifically, it is interested in ultra-fast, but guided, missiles capable of being fired from aircraft.

 

While ballistic missiles can fly faster, they are not controlled. They follow predictable and high flight paths which can be easily detected and intercepted.

 

But a hypersonic missile or aircraft would fly on a much flatter trajectory, and potentially be able to manoeuvre to dodge incoming fire.

 

The Australian Department of Defence says the experimental flight tests were part of a research effort involving BAE Systems, the University of Queensland, as well as the Defence Science Technology Group and AFRL.

 

NASA was one of the project’s founding members, though is no longer directly involved.

 

University of Queensland Chair of Hypersonic Propulsion Professor Michael Smart said in a statement that the “triumph” advanced the realisation of hypersonic flight.

 

“Hypersonic flight has the potential to revolutionise air travel, making it faster and cheaper to travel around the world and into space,” said Professor Smart.

 

“Fundamental research conducted over many years by UQ’s Centre for Hypersonics, within the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering, has made a significant contribution to this and previous HIFiRE flights.”.

 

BAE Systems has also declared the test a success, saying it was “the most complex of all HIFiRE flights conducted to date, to further the fundamental scientific understanding of hypersonic flight.”

 

“This flight trial is a significant step forward in proving this technology and enhancing our collective understanding of how it could be employed across a range of applications.”

 

Source

Solaris likes this

Rumors are carried by haters
Spread by fools
and
Accepted by idiots

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This may be the beginning of something that gives Ivan and Xi a little pause, while also being able to blow their fish right out of the water. 

Edited by Weps

"THE CIA IS MADE UP OF BOYS WHOSE FAMILIES SENT THEM TO PRINCETON, BUT WOULDN'T LET THEM INTO THE FAMILY BROKERAGE BUSINESS" - LBJ

 

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11 hours ago, Weps said:

This may be the beginning of something that gives Ivan and Xi a little pause, while also being able to blow their fish right out of the water. 

When you come right down to it anything Russia or China can accomplish in terms of military technology can most likely be at least equaled or bettered by the U.S.

There's probably a lot being done in that regard by the U.S. that doesn't get splashed across the media.

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9 hours ago, Iggy said:

When you come right down to it anything Russia or China can accomplish in terms of military technology can most likely be at least equaled or bettered by the U.S.

There's probably a lot being done in that regard by the U.S. that doesn't get splashed across the media.

That's actually been a topic of debate. USG is on this kick right now about where to spend money and how much is too much to be spending on defense technology. People are getting tired of the idea that you need to throw money at stuff to have better security when it's companies like Raytheon that charge ridiculous premiums for their products that are used once. 


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11 hours ago, Iggy said:

When you come right down to it anything Russia or China can accomplish in terms of military technology can most likely be at least equaled or bettered by the U.S.

There's probably a lot being done in that regard by the U.S. that doesn't get splashed across the media.

 

You're not wrong, the issue boils (as Solaris has pointed out) down to expenditure. After major flops like the F-35, LCS, and Zumwalt people are extremely upset. The US has always spent high in military development and manufacturing. The issue has become the more we spend, the less of a return we see. 

 

An example is the Arleigh-Burke Class Destroyer and the Zumwalt Class Destroyer;

The Arleighs were designed in the 80's and fielded in 91', one of the most technologically advanced destroyers ever field, with extremely low cross-section, a mind bogging arsenal to draw from (also capable of ASW operations), and a radar suite that to this day is still unparalleled. At a cost of $.18B each, we planned to build 76, but only built 66, with 63 active and 3 still being built. 

The Zumwalt was promised to outclass the Arleigh in every right.  Thus far, the only really advancement would be the inclusion of SPY-3 radar, which isn't an essential system and still outmatched by SPY-1. The Zumwalts have 16 less VLS cells (lacks the ability to preform ASW operations), an advanced 155mm naval gun that has base-bleed ammunition that is so costly the program was cancelled ($800,000 per shell), and lacks a Phalanx CIWS. It's only real advantage over the Arleigh class is a further reduced cross-section. The Zumwalts have been plagued with a series of mechanical issues since their commissioning. Due to cost overruns ($4.4B per ship), the Nunn-McCurdy Amendment was triggered and all further production was halted.  

 

Solaris likes this

"THE CIA IS MADE UP OF BOYS WHOSE FAMILIES SENT THEM TO PRINCETON, BUT WOULDN'T LET THEM INTO THE FAMILY BROKERAGE BUSINESS" - LBJ

 

Weps.gif

 

|DesertRockXI|Quartermasters Chest|Twitter|SoundCloud|

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