The US Army has accidentally revealed the plan for a new hypersonic weapon they are planning to build via a published photo on an official social media account of Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy.
Inadvertent Publicity of a New Weapon
According to Task & Purpose, the photo was taken during the Association of the United States Army's 2019 Annual Meeting that happened in Washington DC last October 2019 and was published under the secretary's official Flickr account.
In the photo, Secretary McCarthy is handling briefing slides with the title "Vintage Racer - Loitering Weapon System (LWS) Overview."
The papers that were included in the photo did not reveal much about what Vintage Racer is, but it does show what the briefing about the new weapon comprises, such as "Hypersonic Ingress," "Time Over Target," and "Modular payload," among others.
The words "Long Range, Rapid Ingress" can be seen at the bottom of the page.
Looking closely, there are several more sub-bullets, but the letters are unreadable, making it hard to know what they say, along with three more papers covered by the first one, so it's impossible to know what those are other slides include.
What is the Army's New Weapon?
In a report by AviationWeek's Steve Trimble, who was the first to notice the inadvertent publicity, the weapon is a Mach 5-plus projectile, which could be launched and could penetrate a defended airspace, and then dispense a multi-role loitering system over the targeted area.
Trimble also noted that the concept is already being discussed within the hypersonic weapons community, according to Dmitry Stefanovitch, a Russian military expert from the Moscow-based Russian International Affairs Council.
"The fear is that [this] hypersonic 'something' might reach the patrol area of road-mobile ICBM launchers [after] penetrating any possible air and missile defense and then dispense loitering submunitions that will find launchers in the forests," Stefanovitch explained.
The community sees it as a potential solution to "elusive" targets, such as road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile launchers.
Budget for Fiscal Year 2021
Furthermore, the news outlet noted that the project was vaguely referenced in the Defense Department budget justification documents that were released earlier this year, although it went somewhat unnoticed.
In addition, the Vintage Racer was described as a "success story" under the line item that was owned by the Office of Secretary of Defense for a "quick reaction fund."
"The project successfully validated aerodynamic design with wind tunnel testing and integrated a guidance subsystem for targeted kinetic effects before culminating in a FY 2019 flight test," the Pentagon slide states.
The photo that includes the briefing slide for the Vintage Racer also consists of a General Atomics press release, a 155mm artillery gun rifled barrel with a hole burned through it, as well as what appears to be an LRHW model.
Business Insider tried to reach out to the US Army and the Office of Secretary of Defense for any comments regarding the new weapon's accidental publicity, but they did not respond.
Besides the photo in question, several more images are taken during the event that is uploaded on the secretary's album on his official Flickr account.