The US and Australia have jointly test-fired a hypersonic missile capable of moving at a speed eight times faster than sound as part of a $54-million research project. The test was part of a project called the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation Program (HIFiRE) involving the US and Australian militaries, Queensland University, Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Group and private companies, including Boeing and BAE Systems.
More Details about Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation Program (HIFiRE):
The hypersonic missile is capable of travelling at Mach 8 – eight times faster than the speed of sound, from between 3,836mph (6,200kmh) to almost 8,000mph (13,000kmh).
- Hypersonic missiles are considered to have the potential to transform warfare as they are manoeuvred high enough to be safe from many existing air defences.
- The United States and Australia have been quietly working on the project for more than eight years. Initially, the partnership also included the American space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
- The very first launch of a HIFiRE flight vehicle, which simply validated the basic design, occurred in May 2009.
- Earlier, there had been other launches under HIFiRE project, including those in Hawaii and Norway in 2012.
- The recent testing was conducted at the rocket range in the town of Woomera, South Australia on an unspecified date in early July 2017. As mentioned by Australia’s Defense Minister Marise Payne, the range in Woomera, a remote town in South Australia’s Far North region, housing the Australian Defense Force base and Woomera Test Range, was chosen because of its vast area and ability to support continuous telemetry collection during the flight.
- Payne said the latest launch was the end of the tests as part of the HiFiRE series.
- It is to be noted that in May 2017, members of US Congress raised concerns that the US was trailing behind Russia and China in the development of hypersonic weapons capabilities.
- Capital: Canberra
- Currency: Australian dollar