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Glide Breaker Hypersonic Weapons Killer Looking to Start Wind Tunnel and Flight Testing

When they first appeared, nuclear weapons were a game-changer. They first came as bombs that could be dropped from airplanes, then they became available as missiles and rockets too. Time, research, and fear led to the development of hardware capable to counter pretty much all of them.
Rendering of DARPA's Glide Breaker moving to intercept hypersonic weapons 6 photos
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But now a new type of menace emerges, and it’s called a hypersonic weapon. That would be a missile or rocket capable of traveling at least five times faster than the speed of sound, rendering pretty much all existing countermeasures useless.

Hypersonic weapons are already around, and Russia even claims to have been used one for the first time during its war against Ukraine. Knowing this, nations that could potentially be at the receiving end of such a device are working on technologies to counter this emerging threat as well.

One of the ideas being studied in the U.S., by DARPA, is the so-called Glide Breaker. That would be a system comprising a vehicle that could intercept hypersonic weapons during their glide phase.

DARPA started the Glide Breaker program back in 2018 and was until now busy creating and proving “a divert and attitude control system (DACS) that enables a kill vehicle” to do just that. Earlier this month, the agency announced Phase 2 of the program.

As of now, DARPA is on a lookout for proposals that could allow the Glide Breaker concept, more specifically the aerodynamic jet interaction effects between DACS and hypersonic air flows, to be tested inside a wind tunnel, and even in actual flight.

“Glide Breaker Phase 1 developed the propulsion technology necessary to achieve hit-to-kill against highly-maneuverable hypersonic threats. Phase 2 of the Glide Breaker program will develop the technical understanding of jet interactions necessary to enable design of propulsion control systems for a future operational glide-phase interceptor kill vehicle,” said in a statement Major Nathan Greiner, program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office.

“Phases 1 and 2 together fill the technology gaps necessary for the U.S. to develop a robust defense against hypersonic threats.”


DARPA’s Glide Breaker Phase 2 Broad Agency Announcement can be found at this link.

Editor's note: Gallery show various hypersonic systems images.

 
 
 
 
 

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