The United States says their air force has successfully tested a hypersonic missile, while America tries to keep pace with China and Russia.

Hypersonic missiles are designed to travel at speeds in excess of Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound or about 3,850 mph) in the upper atmosphere.

The U.S. military tested a Lockheed Martin hypersonic missile, called the ARRW (Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon) booster, off the coast of California this week, the sources say.

It comes a few months after Russia claimed to have unleashed its latest hypersonic missile for the first time in Ukraine.

The ARRW is carried high under the wing of an aircraft before being launched towards its target.

In previous US tests, the weapon did not detach from the aircraft.

American efforts to develop hypersonic weapons have been hampered by failed tests and mounting cost questions.

There are also growing concerns that the US is falling behind Russia and China in what has become a superpower arms race.

In a separate and successful hypersonic weapon test, the US Agency for Advanced Defense Research Projects (DARPA) demonstrated its operational fires program, according to two people familiar with the matter.

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March 2022: Russia uses hypersonic missiles

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Russia has “unprecedented” hypersonic missiles.

Operational Fires is a ground-launched system that “will quickly and accurately engage critical and time-sensitive targets while penetrating modern enemy air defenses.”

One of Lockheed Martin’s concepts for the DARPA weapon is to use an outbound HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) launcher, such as those sent to Ukraine, to fire the weapon.

These successful tests come after a failed test flight on June 29 of a different type of hypersonic weapon, the Common Hypersonic Glide Body, at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii.

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