An Advanced Hypersonic Weapon flight test exploded over Kodiak Island shortly after launch early Monday morning, according to the Department of Defense.
The military weaponry is one of several new technologies being developed and tested as part of its Conventional Prompt Global Strike Program, conducted by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, the DOD said in a written release.
Maureen Schumann, a DOD spokeswoman, says the program aims to give the U.S. the ability to strike anywhere in the world within an hour.
“This was the first launch from Kodiak,” Schumann said. “It was only the second flight test of the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon.”
Schumann says the first, which took off from Hawaii in 2011, was a success. The launch this morning was not.
The Kodiak flight test took off from the Kodiak Launch Complex just after midnight. It was headed toward the Marshall Islands – about 2100 nautical miles southwest of Honolulu, Hawaii – when just four seconds after liftoff, the flight was terminated. KMXT, Kodiak’s public radio station, reports the resulting explosion could be heard more than 10 miles from the launch site.
“We made the decision, based on pubic safety, to terminate the launch, so I wouldn’t begin to speculate what would happen if we didn’t,” Schumann said.
Falling debris caused some damage to the Kodiak Launch Complex, but Schumann says no one was injured. She says the initial risk to the surrounding area was minimal.
“There was no risk,” Schumann said. “This was a glide vehicle that was lifted via booster or launch system, so there were no warheads or anything on the launch vehicle.”
Schumann says Monday’s launch was the second flight test of the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon. The Kodiak flight test was heading for the Army’s Reagan Test Site in the Kwajalein Atoll, about 3,500 miles away, Schumann said.
The DOD said program officials are conducting an investigation into the “flight anomaly” that cut Monday’s test short. The conclusion of the investigation will inform any future decisions on further tests.