US successfully tests hypersonic missile amid concerns America is falling behind Russia and China

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A hypersonic missile has been successfully tested by the US Air Force, as America seeks to keep pace with China and Russia.

Hypersonic missiles are designed to travel at speeds breaching Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound or about 3,850mph) in the upper atmosphere.

The military tested a Lockheed Martin hypersonic missile, called an Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) booster, off the coast of California coast this week, sources say.

It comes a few months after Russia claimed to have unleashed its latest hypersonic missile on Ukraine for the first time.

The ARRW is carried aloft under the wing of a plane before it is launched toward its target.

In previous US tests, the weapon did not detach from the aircraft.

American efforts to develop hypersonic weapons have been hampered by failed tests and growing questions about costs.

There are also increasing concerns is falling behind Russia and China in what has become a superpower arms race.

In a separate and also successful hypersonic weapon test, America's Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) demonstrated its Operational Fires programme, two people familiar with the matter said.

Operational Fires is a ground-launched system that will "rapidly and precisely engage critical, time-sensitive targets while penetrating modern enemy air defences".

One of Lockheed Martin's concepts for the DARPA weapon is to use an exiting High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launcher, like those sent to Ukraine, to fire the weapon.

These successful tests come after failed a test flight on 29 June of a different type of hypersonic weapon, the Common Hypersonic Glide Body, at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii.

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