In an advanced test, Swedish conglomerate Saab, launched three hypersonic missiles to demonstrate controlled flight at extreme speeds. The missile, of which three were built, was test fired at maximum velocity, exceeding Mach 5.5, corresponding to 6500 km/h.
Saab Bofors Dynamics, a subsidiary, developed the experimental missile, in a technology programme financed by the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV). The successful test makes Saab the first company to demonstrate that it is possible to manoeuvre missiles at hypersonic speed.
According to Saab, the test successfully demonstrated all factors that went into the making of such a missile, such as materials, aerodynamics and guidance systems that would enable controlled flight at hypersonic speeds.
''Once again Sweden and Saab have shown that we are at the leading edge. We are the first to demonstrate that it is possible to manoeuvre a missile at these enormous speeds,'' said Soren Wigren, programme manager at Saab Bofors Dynamics.
In the first two tests the missile's capacity for lateral manoeuvring and the ability to fly without rotating around its own axis were demonstrated. At the third launch the missile was guided on a programmed flight path.
A manoeuvrable missile fired at hypersonic speeds is difficult to oppose. The speed means that reaction times are minimal and the missile's hit ratio increases. At the same time the enormous speed means that it can be used against armoured targets.
The experimental missile is a technology demonstrator that allows the study of the phenomena that occur during the test firing and the investigation of possible technical solutions for so called hypersonic missiles. Designing missiles for the phenomena that occur at such extreme speeds is a considerable challenge. The wind forces on fuselage and wings give unpredictable deflections. There is also significant heating resulting from the friction with the air.