The vehicle glided at least 4,000 kilometers to the Pacific atoll, with the goal of testing “navigation, guidance, and control” according to Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Melinda F. Morgan. It was powered by a three-stage hypersonic booster system.
Scientists classify hypersonic speeds as those at Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound) or above.
The Pentagon developed AHW as part of the Conventional Prompt Global Strike (CPGS) program, which the US said it would use to “precisely strike time-sensitive, high value targets,” according to the US State Department. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has conducted research on a similar hypersonic weapon, the HTV-2.