When the Navy did its environmental impact statement (EIS) for the expansion of its Hawaiian Range Complex, “air-breathing hypersonic vehicles” were listed as one of the items to be tested there. However, there were no details about the nature of the tests in the report. The Navy officials at the time said that the technology was still in development and that more detailed supplemental studies would be conducted when the nature of the tests were known. There were no supplemental studies done that I am aware of. But as we suspected, the laundry list of weapons testing and training activities were packed into a mammoth programmatic level EIS to avoid doing the more detailed analysis usually required by NEPA. In other words, they sought and got a blanket approval without having to study, disclose or mitigate impacts or identify alternatives. The Honolulu Star Advertiser reports that the Army conducted a test with a hypersonic weapon launched from Kaua’i:
The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command and Army Forces Strategic Command said they conducted the first test flight of the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon concept this morning at the Pacific Missile Range on Kauai.
The first-of-its-kind glide vehicle, designed to fly within the earth’s atmosphere at hypersonic speed, launched from Kauai at 1:30 this morning to the Reagan Test Site at Kwajelein Atoll. The data collected will be used by the Pentagon to model and develop future hypersonic boost-glide capabilities.
Another hypersonic aircraft, the Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2, or HTV-2, reached Mach 20, or about 13,000 mph, before crashing into the Pacific on Aug. 11.
The Pentagon has said in the past that the goal of its hypersonic efforts is to develop a technology that could deliver a non-nuclear warhead anywhere in the world within an hour.
“Non-nuclear”? It is not a stretch of the imagination to see this as a delivery vehicle for warheads nuclear as well as non-nuclear.