The Pentagon held a successful test flight of a flying bomb that travels faster than the speed of sound on Thursday, AFP reported.
The bomb will give military planners the ability to strike targets anywhere in the world in less than an hour, the report said.
The “Advanced Hypersonic Weapon,” or AHW, was launched by rocket from Hawaii and proceeded to glide through the upper atmosphere over the Pacific “at hypersonic speed” before hitting its target on the Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands, a Pentagon statement said.
Kwajalein is located about 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) southwest of Hawaii. The Pentagon did not say what top speeds were reached by the vehicle, which is maneuverable.
Hypersonic speeds are classified by scientists as those that exceed five times the speed of sound -- 3,728 miles (6,000 kilometers) an hour, AFP said.
A Pentagon spokeswoman told the French-based news agency the test aimed to gather data on “aerodynamics, navigation, guidance and control, and thermal protection technologies.”
The U.S. Army’s AHW project is part of the “Prompt Global Strike” program which seeks to give the U.S. military the means to deliver conventional weapons anywhere in the world within an hour.
The timing of the test may raise some eyebrows, in the wake of the recent controversy regarding Iran’s nuclear program.
In its latest report, the IAEA said last week that it was able to build an overall “credible” impression that Iranian scientists were engaged in carrying out “activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.”
Iran has dismissed the report as “baseless.” Nevertheless, there has been wide speculation of a military attack on Iran which might be launched by Israel.
Recent reports suggested that the U.S. might also support a strike on Iran’s nuclear program: The Obama administration is reportedly considering arming Qatar with huge bunker buster bombs, raising the possibility of an American-Israel-Arab attack on Iran.
The U.S. Air Force has received a shipment of 30,000-pound bombs, six times larger than those now in use, which can penetrate concrete bunkers. Iran has buried new nuclear plants in rocky mountainous areas and has buried them so deep under concrete to minimize the damage of an aerial attack, even if bunker buster bombs are used.
The Air Force began receiving the new monster bombs in September, and Boeing may build as many as 16 of the weapons, a U.S. military spokesman told Bloomberg News on Wednesday.