The U.S. Army is facing a setback in its quest to deploy the Dark Eagle Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon within the current fiscal year, as it now anticipates a delay until the close of the calendar year.
This development was shared with Defense News by the Army's chief of acquisition, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, Doug Bush during a recent interview.
“We still have a path with a follow up test to get to a fielded capability by the end of calendar 2023,” Bush said. “We’re finding problems… It’s actually good we’re finding these.”
The reason behind this delay can be attributed to the cancellation of a critical test of the Common Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB), which was originally scheduled for this month.
The Army is committed to ensuring the reliability and safety of the weapon before it is put into service, recognizing the paramount importance of addressing any issues during the testing phase.
Hypersonic weapons, which can attain speeds exceeding Mach 5, represent a strategic challenge, and the U.S. faces competition from China and Russia, both actively advancing their hypersonic capabilities.
The Army has made substantial strides in this endeavor, transitioning from conceptualization to hardware delivery in just over two years, including the provision of essential ground equipment for the Dark Eagle system. Despite the cancellation of the LRHW test, Army Under Secretary Gabe Camarillo expressed strong confidence in the program.
“I’m very confident in the program,” Camarillo said, adding that work to train and equip the first unit with the Dark Eagle capability is “going really, really well.”
Additionally, a joint Navy and Army test planned for March was also called off during pre-flight checks.
Significant efforts have been invested in developing an industrial base for the hypersonic weapon glide body and associated components, a sector that was previously non-existent within the domestic private industry. Lockheed Martin assumes the role of the weapon system integrator, while Dynetics, a subsidiary of Leidos, has been entrusted with the construction of the hypersonic glide body.
However, Lt. Gen. Rob Rasch, the Army's Director of Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, emphasized the need for careful consideration in balancing testing and production to prevent the need for reworking previously constructed hardware. He underscored the crucial role that upcoming tests will play in informing production decisions.