On October 7, soldiers of the 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Brigade, US Army received the first mobile-based long-range hypersonic weapon. This was reported by the Public Relations Office of the Joint Base Lewis-McCord, where, in fact, this unit is located. A series of photographs have also been released showing the arrival of new launchers.
It is noteworthy that the pictures are dated September 14 and 15 this year. This means that the delivery took place in top secrecy, but now it has been decided to solemnly transfer these installations with the LRHW index.
American journalists just shrug their shoulders, not understanding what caused such a delay, because the Pentagon traditionally “drives the cart in front of the horse.” Overseas, all new weapons are announced in advance and promoted, after all, taxpayers’ money is spent. And here – a suspicious silence, moreover, the press service of the Lewis-McCord base, which has extensive connections with the American media.
Judging by the accompanying note, we are talking about a prototype with a high level of availability. It seems that all that remains is to conduct the final tests already in the army. Deliveries of these weapons to combat units will begin “by fiscal 2023,” that is, until September 30 of next year, which clearly indicates a rush with the LRHW program.
“A hypersonic weapon capable of flying at five times the speed of sound (Mach 5) is a new capability that provides a unique combination of speed, maneuverability and altitude to engage critical and heavily defended targets. Hypersonics is the number one priority for modernization of precision missiles and is one of the priority areas for overall modernization that the Department of Defense is pursuing to ensure continued dominance on the battlefield, ”said the Lewis-McCord Joint Base Public Affairs Office news.
It is very likely that the Yankees decided to urgently respond to reports from Russia about the first test launch of the 3M22 Zircon hypersonic missile from the Severodvinsk multipurpose nuclear submarine (Project 885 M of the Ash type), which took place on October 4 from the surface … This is hardly a coincidence, if only because the LRHW photo shoot was made in mid-September, and the most knowledgeable US Internet resources, who have their insiders in the army, did not know about it. Apparently, it was in Washington that the decision was made to adequately respond to the events in the White Sea.
So, in the photographs from the Lewis-McCord base, the delivered launchers are visible. They are mounted on modified M870 trailers and will be towed by Oshkosh M983A4 tractors, which are variants of the heavy duty tactical truck with increased mobility.
US press. by the way, she said that nothing about this program had previously leaked into the public media space. However, not quite so: March 17, 2021 Stars and Stripes Lieutenant General of the Army L. Neil Thurgood, head of the Army’s Rapid Response and Critical Technologies Directorate, told Defense News about two containers that could hold long-range hypersonic weapons. A photo was also published there, according to which the weight of each box with approximate dimensions of 1.5 × 1.5 × 9 m is 9.2 tons.
Besides, Bob Strider, deputy director of the Army’s Hypersonic Project Office, explained at the annual symposium on space and missile defense in August, “It will be batteries of four launchers, two missiles each.”
The name of these hypersonic missiles has already appeared – Dark Eagle (“Dark eagle”), apparently by analogy with a dark horse. At first glance, the “Dark Eagle” is the answer to our “Iskander”, but the same Bob Strider explained that “LRHW is just the beginning.” According to him, a full-fledged line will be created, including aircraft and submarine ones. That is, the novelty will be installed on various launchers, including bombers and submarines.
By the way, you can recall another interesting publication on this topic three years ago. Aviationweek.com published some details in 2018 about the Pentagon’s efforts to merge the three Field Artillery, Navy and Air Force programs into one, with the goal of creating a fully-fledged weapon capable of flying at speeds greater than Mach 6 by 2021. …
But then – in September 2018 Will Roper, the Air Force Assistant Secretary for Procurement, Technology and Logistics, who previously headed the Pentagon’s secret Office of Strategic Opportunities, admitted to reporters that “an approach not invented here” will be used. The top military official did not explain what he meant.
Now, we repeat, according to the statement of the press service of Lewis-McCord, the weapon was created with the use of “critical technologies” – the very ones whose rapid appearance was not expected even by the local experts and politicians at the very top. In particular, even the former US Secretary of Defense stated about the problems with the creation of combat hypersonics. Mark Esper back in 2019. Yes and Trumpwhile still president, he actually admitted a strong lag behind Russia, although he accused Moscow of stealing know-how.
So, in the most miraculous way, the Yankees suddenly made Dark Eagle from scratch, and in a version ready for an army test. To achieve such progress in such a short time is possible only through industrial espionage. It is very likely that the “American friends” have leaked the technological top secrets from Russia.
However, it is one thing to make an experimental “hardware”, and another – to bring it to mass production, especially since “hypersound” does not forgive the fuss. Based on the Pentagon’s budget, Dark Eagle trials will begin in fiscal 2022, which is known to have started on October 1st.
But the Yankees seem to have saddled a hypersonic horse. The US Department of Defense is already talking to the fullest about the continuation and development of the LRHW program. They say that the day is not far off when the “Dark Eagles” will develop a speed of Mach 17 and hit targets with high precision at a distance of almost 3 thousand km.
Moreover, a new rule is already being developed in the United States, according to which, the higher the headquarters in the table of ranks, the more long-range hypersonic weapons it will control. Thus, USEUCOM and USINDOPACOM, the commanders of theaters of operations in Europe and the Pacific, respectively, will gain control over hypersonic weapons capable of hitting targets at a distance of 2,775 km and 1,800 km – that is, long and medium-range missiles. Moreover, they will have at least one battery of combat-ready Dark Eagle prototypes at their disposal in 2023.