First US hypersonic weapon will be based on old Sandia work

Sandia National labs developed the hypersonic prototype – “Sandia Winged Energetic Reentry Vehicle Experiment” from 1979 – 1985. This cone-shaped system will be the basis for a $13 million project led by the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory in Massachusetts.

Sandia will produce the actual prototypes and the Army will be responsible for flight testing them.

SWERVE was about 100 inches long and could reach a peak of Mach 12 before gliding along at a sustained Mach 8 for a full minute. The Army’s goal for AHW was also a sustained speed of around eight times the speed of sound that would allow the weapon to travel around 3,700 miles in just 35 minutes.

51 thoughts on “First US hypersonic weapon will be based on old Sandia work”

  1. Think about the guidance and control challenges: this was 1979-1985. IBM PC just barely started, no GPS. It was inertial navigation, doing floating point navigation & autopilot software with a bit-slice (remember that?) computer. Modelling and simulation? Haha, never heard of such things. We were lucky to have a PDP-8 to develop the flight software.

    Reply
  2. Translation: All America had to do was take some stuff we already developed and just put on a shelf, dust it off and viola! InstaHypersonic® weapon! This is why the rest of the world sûcks and the US of A kicks âss.

    Reply
  3. I say the only “true” hypersonic platform being developed is the Sabre engine. All the others are simply better more maneuverable nosecones for an ICBM. Thy all still take a multi-stage approach and need a rocket to reach the speed, then just glide. The X-51 Waverider was a better steeping stone than this is. It did not require a ballistic trajectory and was air dropped, flew using an on-board engine after a quick rocket boost to high supersonic.

    Reply
  4. Translation: All America had to do was take some stuff we already developed and just put on a shelf dust it off and viola! InstaHypersonic® weapon!This is why the rest of the world sûcks and the US of A kicks âss.”

    Reply
  5. I say the only true”” hypersonic platform being developed is the Sabre engine. All the others are simply better more maneuverable nosecones for an ICBM. Thy all still take a multi-stage approach and need a rocket to reach the speed”” then just glide. The X-51 Waverider was a better steeping stone than this is. It did not require a ballistic trajectory and was air dropped”” flew using an on-board engine after a quick rocket boost to high supersonic.”””

    Reply
  6. I don’t disagree with your root point here that air breathing hypersonic is the goal, but what you’re looking at up there – this coned weapon – this is just a structure, they’re just testing a structure. You have two aspects that makes hypersonics hard – materials technology and propulsion. These are separate and they’re clearly tackling them separately. Just getting a profile that will survive Mach 8 indefinitely is hard by itself, forget building a power plant to push it to Mach 8. You gotta do both. So, coming up with the warhead geometry first is not a sign they’re not even looking at an engine and planning to do nothing but stick a rocket on it. At first that’s probably what they’ll do. But they’ll move to airbreathing. They know that’s the holy grail.

    Reply
  7. I don’t disagree with your root point here that air breathing hypersonic is the goal but what you’re looking at up there – this coned weapon – this is just a structure they’re just testing a structure. You have two aspects that makes hypersonics hard – materials technology and propulsion. These are separate and they’re clearly tackling them separately. Just getting a profile that will survive Mach 8 indefinitely is hard by itself forget building a power plant to push it to Mach 8. You gotta do both. So coming up with the warhead geometry first is not a sign they’re not even looking at an engine and planning to do nothing but stick a rocket on it. At first that’s probably what they’ll do. But they’ll move to airbreathing. They know that’s the holy grail.

    Reply
  8. If there is anything great in any country it must be how we live not how we kill. You are missing something that is critically necessary for life, in your considerations thus far.

    Reply
  9. If there is anything great in any country it must be how we live not how we kill. You are missing something that is critically necessary for life in your considerations thus far.

    Reply
  10. Look I see what you are saying, but my problem is that a modern ICBM already has a CEP of around 100m and is coming at the target at hyper-sonic speed over mach 10. Current missile strategies are reliant on saturation point tactics. How is a mach 8-12 glide vehicle any better than a current ICBM in that situation? Really what they need is the aeroframe tech to match what is currently possible with propulsion tech. So its more important to develop the materials and aerodynamic models for maneuverability to survive mach 5-8 speed in atmosphere. Developing a self powered mach 5-8 hypersoinc vehicle system that is maneuverable enough with enough range to loiter at various altitudes before coming down to be reused quickly should be the ultimate goal. That is why I like the X-51 test, it was a combination attempt and a prototype hypersonic cruise missile platform. The glide vehicles are testing things that are not currently useful, when we still need to work on the stuff that might soon be.

    Reply
  11. Look I see what you are saying but my problem is that a modern ICBM already has a CEP of around 100m and is coming at the target at hyper-sonic speed over mach 10. Current missile strategies are reliant on saturation point tactics. How is a mach 8-12 glide vehicle any better than a current ICBM in that situation? Really what they need is the aeroframe tech to match what is currently possible with propulsion tech. So its more important to develop the materials and aerodynamic models for maneuverability to survive mach 5-8 speed in atmosphere. Developing a self powered mach 5-8 hypersoinc vehicle system that is maneuverable enough with enough range to loiter at various altitudes before coming down to be reused quickly should be the ultimate goal. That is why I like the X-51 test it was a combination attempt and a prototype hypersonic cruise missile platform. The glide vehicles are testing things that are not currently useful when we still need to work on the stuff that might soon be.

    Reply
  12. Not unless you have these bad ass agricultural combines that can feed 8 times your population and still have plenty left over making into swords.

    Reply
  13. Who beats all their swords into plowshares will till for who does not” That a quote from someone else? Either way, I will have to remember to use that one later.

    Reply
  14. Not unless you have these bad ass agricultural combines that can feed 8 times your population and still have plenty left over making into swords.

    Reply
  15. Who beats all their swords into plowshares will till for who does not”” That a quote from someone else? Either way”””” I will have to remember to use that one later.”””

    Reply
  16. Not unless you have these bad ass agricultural combines that can feed 8 times your population and still have plenty left over making into swords.

    Reply
  17. Not unless you have these bad ass agricultural combines that can feed 8 times your population and still have plenty left over making into swords.

    Reply
  18. Who beats all their swords into plowshares will till for who does not” That a quote from someone else? Either way, I will have to remember to use that one later.

    Reply
  19. Who beats all their swords into plowshares will till for who does not”” That a quote from someone else? Either way”””” I will have to remember to use that one later.”””

    Reply
  20. Look I see what you are saying, but my problem is that a modern ICBM already has a CEP of around 100m and is coming at the target at hyper-sonic speed over mach 10. Current missile strategies are reliant on saturation point tactics. How is a mach 8-12 glide vehicle any better than a current ICBM in that situation? Really what they need is the aeroframe tech to match what is currently possible with propulsion tech. So its more important to develop the materials and aerodynamic models for maneuverability to survive mach 5-8 speed in atmosphere. Developing a self powered mach 5-8 hypersoinc vehicle system that is maneuverable enough with enough range to loiter at various altitudes before coming down to be reused quickly should be the ultimate goal. That is why I like the X-51 test, it was a combination attempt and a prototype hypersonic cruise missile platform. The glide vehicles are testing things that are not currently useful, when we still need to work on the stuff that might soon be.

    Reply
  21. Look I see what you are saying but my problem is that a modern ICBM already has a CEP of around 100m and is coming at the target at hyper-sonic speed over mach 10. Current missile strategies are reliant on saturation point tactics. How is a mach 8-12 glide vehicle any better than a current ICBM in that situation? Really what they need is the aeroframe tech to match what is currently possible with propulsion tech. So its more important to develop the materials and aerodynamic models for maneuverability to survive mach 5-8 speed in atmosphere. Developing a self powered mach 5-8 hypersoinc vehicle system that is maneuverable enough with enough range to loiter at various altitudes before coming down to be reused quickly should be the ultimate goal. That is why I like the X-51 test it was a combination attempt and a prototype hypersonic cruise missile platform. The glide vehicles are testing things that are not currently useful when we still need to work on the stuff that might soon be.

    Reply
  22. Look I see what you are saying, but my problem is that a modern ICBM already has a CEP of around 100m and is coming at the target at hyper-sonic speed over mach 10. Current missile strategies are reliant on saturation point tactics. How is a mach 8-12 glide vehicle any better than a current ICBM in that situation? Really what they need is the aeroframe tech to match what is currently possible with propulsion tech. So its more important to develop the materials and aerodynamic models for maneuverability to survive mach 5-8 speed in atmosphere. Developing a self powered mach 5-8 hypersoinc vehicle system that is maneuverable enough with enough range to loiter at various altitudes before coming down to be reused quickly should be the ultimate goal. That is why I like the X-51 test, it was a combination attempt and a prototype hypersonic cruise missile platform. The glide vehicles are testing things that are not currently useful, when we still need to work on the stuff that might soon be.

    Reply
  23. If there is anything great in any country it must be how we live not how we kill. You are missing something that is critically necessary for life, in your considerations thus far.

    Reply
  24. If there is anything great in any country it must be how we live not how we kill. You are missing something that is critically necessary for life in your considerations thus far.

    Reply
  25. ” If there is anything great in any country it must be how we live not how we kill. ” <-- True only in part. Who beats all their swords into plowshares will till for who does not.

    Reply
  26. I don’t disagree with your root point here that air breathing hypersonic is the goal, but what you’re looking at up there – this coned weapon – this is just a structure, they’re just testing a structure. You have two aspects that makes hypersonics hard – materials technology and propulsion. These are separate and they’re clearly tackling them separately. Just getting a profile that will survive Mach 8 indefinitely is hard by itself, forget building a power plant to push it to Mach 8. You gotta do both. So, coming up with the warhead geometry first is not a sign they’re not even looking at an engine and planning to do nothing but stick a rocket on it. At first that’s probably what they’ll do. But they’ll move to airbreathing. They know that’s the holy grail.

    Reply
  27. I don’t disagree with your root point here that air breathing hypersonic is the goal but what you’re looking at up there – this coned weapon – this is just a structure they’re just testing a structure. You have two aspects that makes hypersonics hard – materials technology and propulsion. These are separate and they’re clearly tackling them separately. Just getting a profile that will survive Mach 8 indefinitely is hard by itself forget building a power plant to push it to Mach 8. You gotta do both. So coming up with the warhead geometry first is not a sign they’re not even looking at an engine and planning to do nothing but stick a rocket on it. At first that’s probably what they’ll do. But they’ll move to airbreathing. They know that’s the holy grail.

    Reply
  28. Translation: All America had to do was take some stuff we already developed and just put on a shelf, dust it off and viola! InstaHypersonic® weapon! This is why the rest of the world sûcks and the US of A kicks âss.

    Reply
  29. Translation: All America had to do was take some stuff we already developed and just put on a shelf dust it off and viola! InstaHypersonic® weapon!This is why the rest of the world sûcks and the US of A kicks âss.”

    Reply
  30. I say the only “true” hypersonic platform being developed is the Sabre engine. All the others are simply better more maneuverable nosecones for an ICBM. Thy all still take a multi-stage approach and need a rocket to reach the speed, then just glide. The X-51 Waverider was a better steeping stone than this is. It did not require a ballistic trajectory and was air dropped, flew using an on-board engine after a quick rocket boost to high supersonic.

    Reply
  31. I say the only true”” hypersonic platform being developed is the Sabre engine. All the others are simply better more maneuverable nosecones for an ICBM. Thy all still take a multi-stage approach and need a rocket to reach the speed”” then just glide. The X-51 Waverider was a better steeping stone than this is. It did not require a ballistic trajectory and was air dropped”” flew using an on-board engine after a quick rocket boost to high supersonic.”””

    Reply
  32. I don’t disagree with your root point here that air breathing hypersonic is the goal, but what you’re looking at up there – this coned weapon – this is just a structure, they’re just testing a structure. You have two aspects that makes hypersonics hard – materials technology and propulsion. These are separate and they’re clearly tackling them separately. Just getting a profile that will survive Mach 8 indefinitely is hard by itself, forget building a power plant to push it to Mach 8. You gotta do both. So, coming up with the warhead geometry first is not a sign they’re not even looking at an engine and planning to do nothing but stick a rocket on it. At first that’s probably what they’ll do. But they’ll move to airbreathing. They know that’s the holy grail.

    Reply
  33. Translation: All America had to do was take some stuff we already developed and just put on a shelf, dust it off and viola!

    InstaHypersonic® weapon!

    This is why the rest of the world sûcks and the US of A kicks âss.

    Reply
  34. I say the only “true” hypersonic platform being developed is the Sabre engine. All the others are simply better more maneuverable nosecones for an ICBM. Thy all still take a multi-stage approach and need a rocket to reach the speed, then just glide. The X-51 Waverider was a better steeping stone than this is. It did not require a ballistic trajectory and was air dropped, flew using an on-board engine after a quick rocket boost to high supersonic.

    Reply

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