The US army is developing self-propelled artillery that can shoot hypersonic rounds, destroying cruise missiles.

M109 self-propelled gun during a training exercise
M109 self-propelled gun during a training exercise

In its future weapons program, the United States developed the hypersonic version 155mm for self-propelled gun M109.

“Tanks shooting down cruise missiles is awesome,” Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology, and logistics, told reporters. “Video game, sci-fi awesome.”

“You’re not supposed to be able to shoot down a cruise missile with a tank. But, yes, you can, if the bullet is smart enough, and the bullet we use for that system is exceptionally smart,” added Mr. Roper.

In addition, the US military calls hypersonic smart bullets a major step forward in the development of cruise missile weapons, according to Task & Purpose.

Specifically, in the exercise earlier this month, the US used a Hypervelocity Projectile (HVP) capable of reaching speeds of up to Mach 5 (6,174 km/h), took down a BQM-167 drone in the sky in New Mexico state (USA). The BQM-167 simulates a Russian cruise missile and was dropped from a bomber. The HVP “Smart Bullet” is fired from the M109 self-propelled gun, according to Breaking Defense.

This exercise focused on a hypothetical attack aimed at the United States after “three months of intense stress”. During the exercise, the US military also tested many other weapons, but only announced the results for “smart ammunition” was successful.

Development program HVP started in 2013, and the US military plans to equip “smart ammunition” for the guns on the warships. However, it is not clear whether the HVP can shoot down a hypersonic missile.

The HVP advantage over conventional missile defense systems is its lower cost. HVP program director Vincent Sabio noted that the Seasparrow missile costs several million dollars each, while an HVP is only around $85,000.

“Our finger pauses over the fire button just because we know every time we push it we’re pushing a fair amount of money out of that launcher,” he said of the Patriot.

But with HVPs, “You can shoot a lot of those things and not feel badly about it.”

In 2018, the US Navy tested 20 HVPs from cannons aboard the destroyer USS Dewey during the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC).

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