The United States plans to place hypersonic missiles on two guided-missile destroyers next year, according to reports.
A new global arms race is underway to develop hypersonic missiles, which travel between five and 25 times the speed of sound.
USNI News reports that the installation of hypersonic missiles on two US warships will take place at a shipyard in Mississippi, near the town of Pascagoula.
The publication saw a pre-solicitation notice from Naval Sea Systems Command, stating that the work will be carried out on USS Zumwalt and USS Michael Monsoor, at Ingalls Shipbuilding.
The notice reads: “The scope of the modernization effort will require specialist construction cranes for greater lifting capacity, dry dock facilities, covered assembly areas and dedicated fabrication shops. .”
Although no start date for work is given, Captain Matthew Schroeder, program manager for the Zumwalt class, said USNI News in March that work should start in October 2023.
The Navy would strip the USS Zumwalt and USS Michael Monsoor of their advanced 155mm gun system mounts, to make way for a vertical hypersonic missile launch system.
They selected the Common Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB), a hypersonic missile under joint development by the Army, Navy and Air Force.
In March, Captain Schroeder described the installation process saying, “We are removing the guns, upper and lower gun rooms. This includes the loading system, transfer carts, ammunition, etc.
“[We’re] descend about five platforms to accommodate the height of the missile, which is significantly taller than other missiles in inventory.”
Earlier this year, Russia completed testing of its new Zircon hypersonic cruise missile.
In July, at a Navy Day parade in St. Petersburg, President Vladimir Putin announced that the weapon would be handed over to the Russian Navy within months.
He commented: “The delivery of these (missiles) to the Russian Armed Forces will begin in the coming months.
“The Admiral Gorshkov frigate will be the first to go into battle with these formidable weapons on board.”
Last year, tests of hypersonic missiles by the Chinese military reportedly left US officials “stunned” by the pace of technical progress.
In March 2020, a hypersonic glide body was successfully tested by the US Department of Defense in Hawaii.
The U.S. military is aiming for the weapons to become fully operational “in the early to mid-2020s.”
After the launch, the Department of Defense (DOD) said, “The United States Navy and United States Army jointly executed the launch of a Joint Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB), which flew at hypersonic speed to a designated impact point.
“At the same time, the Missile Defense Agency has been monitoring and collecting flight experience tracking data that will inform its continued development of systems designed to defend against adversary hypersonic weapons.
“The information gathered from this and future experiments will further inform the development of DOD’s hypersonic technology, and this event is a major step toward the department’s goal of fielding early-to-mid hypersonic combat capabilities. of the 2020s.”
Newsweek has contacted the Department of Defense for comment.