An experimental hypersonic weapon developed to reach targets anywhere in the world within an hour has been destroyed by the US military four seconds after its launch for “public safety”.

The test in Alaska in the early hours of Monday morning was aborted after controllers detected a problem with the system, the Pentagon said, and the launcher is believed to have detonated before the missile was deployed.

Witnesses watched the rocket lift off at around 12.30am local time, before quickly turning nose-down and exploding, KMXT radio reported.

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