The United States'' ability to address emerging hypersonic threats has completed a significant milestone as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced Phase 2 of the Glide Breaker Program.
DARPA is also focusing on the development of hypersonic missiles that are currently under flight testing. However, the US is also required to develop equipment that can handle these missiles if they were ever fired towards the US territory.
How does one counter hypersonic missiles?
One must understand how a hypersonic missile works: a cruise missile and a hypersonic boost-glide missile. Both are capable of performing well at hypersonic speeds.
A hypersonic boost-glide missile is formed of a booster rocket that takes the weapon to hypersonic (>Mach 5) and then detaches from it. The weapon then glides towards its target and can use the airflow to maneuver itself. These missiles have the potential to be extremely devastation.
DARPA''s program aims to combat the weapon during its glide phase, hence Glide Breaker. In 2018, the program created and demonstrated two prototypes of adivert and attitude control system (DACS) during Phase I. Developed by Northrop Grumann and Aerojet Rocketdyne, these system prototypes enabled a kill vehicle to intercept the hypersonic weapon in its glide phase, according to Space.com.
Glide Breaker Phase 2
DARPA is looking for "innovative proposals to conduct wind tunnel and flight testing of jet interaction effects," according to a press release.
According to DARPA, the proposed study will assess dataon jet interaction effects between divert and attitude control jets and a hypersonic crossflow at conditions relevant to a future glide-phase interceptor. The results of the phase will be used to instill design and model development to enable the acquisition of an interceptor using the DACS system.
Phases 1 and 2 will fill the technological gaps in the United States'' plan to develop a hypersonic weapon interceptor, according to a press release.