Army anticipates another delay in fielding Dark Eagle hypersonic weapon after detecting ‘problem’

A critical flight test for the weapon was slated for Oct. 26 but it didn’t go forward as planned.
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash., – Using the Nation’s first prototype Long Range Hypersonic System, Bravo Battery Soldiers with the 5th Battalion, 3rd Artillery, 17th Field Artillery Brigade executed ground movement, round transfers, and established firing capability at Joint Base Lewis McChord Feb. 22-24. (US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Casey Hustin, 17th Field Artillery Brigade)

A recent setback means it’s unlikely that the Army will achieve its goal for fielding its first set of Dark Eagle hypersonic missiles by the end of the calendar year, according to the service’s top weapons buyer.

A critical flight test for the system was slated for Oct. 26 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, but it didn’t go forward as planned.

“I can’t go into details, but it was before launch when a problem was detected. So that’s why the test didn’t happen,” Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Doug Bush told DefenseScoop during a roundtable with reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday.

Bush declined to specify what the problem was, stating that it’s classified and program leaders are still doing root-cause analysis.


“After you have a test failure, you know, you take the thing back, take it apart, and the members of the team work through with the engineers on what exactly the failure was. And we’re doing that of course with the Navy. They are our partners in this program … I think we’re close to understanding what exactly the problem was, which will inform our path to getting back to testing,” he said.

The incident was the latest in a series of hiccups associated with testing the system, which was previously known as the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW).

“It definitely will make it very difficult to achieve our … end-of-the-year goal [for fielding]. Very unlikely we’ll achieve that goal. But at the same time, the capability is still absolutely needed. The Army is still fully committed to it. I think we’ll figure it out,” Bush said.

Hypersonic weapons — which are designed to fly faster than Mach 5, be highly maneuverable and overwhelm enemy air defenses — are a top modernization priority for the Pentagon.

The Army had aimed to field the Dark Eagle before the end of fiscal 2023, which came on Sept. 30. However, a flight test scheduled for September was postponed due to a weapons-related issue, and officials then said they hoped to field the system by the end of the calendar year. Now, it looks like that won’t happen.


“We’ll get the LRHW but it’s going to take more time, unfortunately,” Bush said during the meeting with reporters Tuesday.

Jon Harper

Written by Jon Harper

Jon Harper is Managing Editor of DefenseScoop, the Scoop News Group’s newest online publication focused on the Pentagon and its pursuit of new capabilities. He leads an award-winning team of journalists in providing breaking news and in-depth analysis on military technology and the ways in which it is shaping how the Defense Department operates and modernizes. You can also follow him on Twitter @Jon_Harper_

Latest Podcasts