The U.S. Air Force has picked Lockheed Martin [LMT] to develop and test the air-launched Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW) prototype, the service announced late April 18.

Lockheed Martin was one of three bidders for the multi-year contract, which has a value of up to $928 million. Lockheed-martin-logo

The Air Force said it plans to award the first task order under the indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract “in the next few weeks.” Lockheed Martin intends to perform the work in Huntsville, Ala.

“We are committed to the development of state-of-the-art hypersonic technologies, and we are excited to get to work on the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon program,” said John Snyder, Lockheed Martin’s vice president of Air Force Strategic Programs.

In July, the Air Force said it envisions that both fighters and bombers could carry such a weapon to provide a prompt, precision-strike capability against high-value, time-critical, fixed and relocatable surface targets in contested environments.

Hypersonics technology has received renewed attention recently from top Pentagon officials, who fear the United States is falling behind potential adversaries, such as China. Michael Griffin, the new undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, has called hypersonics his top technical priority (Defense Daily, March 6).