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Australian combat jets will fire US hypersonics

In a bold move to restore its long-range strike capabilities, Australia is set to test-launch a US hypersonic missile from one of its combat jets.

This month, The War Zone reported that the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is set to conduct test launches of the US Air Force’s Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile (HACM) over Australian ranges.

The War Zone notes that the HACM program, a collaborative effort between the US and Australia, aims to enhance both nations’ air-launched hypersonic cruise missile capabilities. According to a US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman have been contracted since 2022 to develop the missile, which features a two-stage design with a rocket booster and a scramjet cruiser.

While The War Zone mentions that the missile’s peak speed is undisclosed, it is expected to surpass Mach 5, the threshold for hypersonic speed. The GAO report indicates that flight testing could commence as early as October and continue through March 2027.

The War Zone states that the decision to utilize RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornets for testing is attributed to limitations in US testing infrastructure. Australia’s Woomera Test Range offers a secure and remote environment ideal for sensitive trials.

It also says that the USAF plans to integrate HACM initially into the F-15E Strike Eagle and potentially expand to other aircraft. The source notes that the program’s progress is closely watched, as hypersonic weapons are considered crucial for future high-end conflicts, offering rapid, difficult-to-intercept strike capabilities.

The War Zone mentions that this collaboration reflects the deepening defense partnership between the US and Australia, further solidified by the AUKUS agreement,