The Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs (SSP) office awarded Lockheed Martin [LMT] an $846 million contract modification for the design, development, build, and integration of equipment for the Navy Intermediate Range Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) Weapon System.
This specifically is a maximum amount awarded in a previously un-priced letter contract covering the design and build of large diameter rocket motors, associated missile body flight articles, and related support equipment for the system.
The contract announcement said this equipment covers flight test demonstrations of the conventional prompt strike weapon.
A Strategic Systems Program (SSP) spokesperson told Defense Daily this contract specifically covers development of a sea-based hypersonic boost glide capability. It “entails all requisite activity to achieve such for the period contracted, including appropriate ground and flight tests.”
The Navy’s CPS program focuses on a submarine-launched hypersonic vehicle.
The service conducted the first test of a hypersonic glide vehicle in October 2017 at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii, called Flight Experiment-1 (FE-1)
Last April, then-director of the Strategic Systems Program, Vice Adm. Terry Benedict, told a Senate Armed Services panel the results of that first test are classified but it was a “very successful experiment” (Defense Daily, April 13, 2018).
Work on the latest contract will occur in Littleton, Colo., and is expected to be finished by January 2024.
A total of $20 million in FY 2018 research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) funds was obligated at award time and will expire at the end of this fiscal year. Another $67 million in FY 2018 RDT&E funds were obligated and will not expire at the end of this fiscal year.
The Defense Department’s FY ‘19 budget request said it planned to conduct a second Navy hypersonic flight test by the end of FY 2020.
A Congressional Research Service report updated on Jan. 8 said funding for this program is expected to increase “significantly” from $278 million in FY ’19 to requesting $478 million in FY ’22. This would result in a total of $1.9 billion for the program from FY ’19 – ’22.
The SSP spokesperson said this unpriced letter contract is not connected to the FY ’20 flight test. That test will be fielded by the CPS national team, which will be led by SSP like the FE-1 experiment was.
In December, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said in the updated Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority Version 2.0 that the Navy will seek to develop and field offensive hypersonic weapons by 2025 (Defense Daily, Dec. 20, 2018).
The Defense Department is pursuing several avenues to gain a Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) capability using hypersonic glide vehicles. Hypersonic vehicles can travel at least five times the speed of sound.
Earlier this month, the Air Force’s top acquisition official said the service hopes to achieve its first flight of its Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon by the end of 2020. The Air Force is also working on a second capability with the Defense Advanced Research projects Agency (DARPA) called the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) (Defense Daily, Feb. 8).
Last March DRAPA director Steven Walker told reporters the agency’s hypersonic weapons timeline is on track to develop strike capabilities by 2020; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities by 2025; and usable technologies by 2030 (Defense Daily, March 9, 2018).
Then, last August, Under Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering Michael Griffin underscored the Defense Department is working to “have some of our first offensive strike weapons in the inventory by the early 2020s.” Then, by the late 2020s, DoD expects to have a long-range conventional strike weapon that can hold an enemy hostage from ranges beyond those that threaten the U.S. (Defense Daily, Aug. 2, 2018).