By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (March 14, 2014) -- In August, the Army expects to again test its Advanced Hypersonic Weapon Technology Demonstration. The results of that test will help determine the system's future.
Lt. Gen. David L. Mann, commander, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, discussed the status of the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon, or AHW, program, Wednesday, before the Senate Armed Services Committee, subcommittee on strategic forces.
"Based upon the results that come from that test, we'll go ahead and, again, work closely with Office of the Secretary of Defense as to what they would like us to do, what the next steps are," Mann said.
The general told lawmakers the Army is also working with the Navy on "possible utilization of this capability."
The AHW is part of an effort to develop a conventional "Prompt Global Strike" capability. Conventional means non-nuclear. The AHW can be launched from the United States and can hit a target anywhere in the world. It can travel at speeds of Mach 5, about 3,600 mph, or higher.
As part of the November 2011 test, an AHW was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii, and arrived 30 minutes later at the Reagan Test Site, U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands -- a distance of about 2,500 miles.
Mann said with the AWH, the Army is on budget and on target with the program.
"I don't see any kind of an overrun at this moment," he said. "Everything is kind of predicated on what happens after the test. We have the monies allocated to support the test. We don't envision any kind of overruns."
Beyond offensive capabilities like the AHW, the Army is also looking at defensive capabilities against threats from other nations.
The U.S. has defensive missile capabilities at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Mann said adding an additional site on the East Coast of the United States would be beneficial to America's defense capability.
"Obviously, putting a third site out there on the East Coast will provide increased capacity, not so much capability, but increased capacity," Mann said. "You will take your assets and spread them out so that you don't have them just at Greeley or at Vandenberg Air Force Base. It also will give a little bit more decision space or 'battle space' as it's known, in order to make a decision regarding a threat emanating from Iran."
Mann told lawmakers the Army must focus more on "long-range discrimination," of targets -- determining what is a threat.
"I think it's fair to say that we will never have enough interceptors to really address all the threat vehicles that are out there," he said. "I think it's more important that we're as efficient and as effective with the interceptors that we currently have, and that's the reason why making sure that we're providing the interceptor with the best track data, the discrimination, to be able to really identify the target within a complex. That's really what I would really highly recommend."