PARIS AIR SHOW—Raytheon [RTN] and Northrop Grumman [NOC] signed a teaming agreement here on June 18 to build hypersonic weapons under the $200 million Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) program for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Air Force.
The companies aim to integrate Northrop Grumman’s scramjet combustors to power Raytheon’s air-breathing hypersonic weapons–viewed by U.S. defense officials as the next generation of tactical missiles.
Scramjet engines compress incoming air before combustion to enable sustained missile flights at hypersonic speeds. Such speeds reduce flight times and “increase weapon survivability, effectiveness and flexibility,” the companies said.
Thomas Bussing, vice president of Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems, said that the team is “quickly developing air-breathing hypersonic weapons to keep our nation ahead of the threat,” while Mike Kahn, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman Defense Systems, said that hypersonic weapons “are critical to enhancing our warfighters’ capabilities for greater standoff and quicker time to target.”
The Raytheon and Northrop Grumman teaming arrangement comes days after the Air Force and Lockheed Martin [LMT] said that they successfully flight tested components of one of the service’s future hypersonic weapons aboard a B-52 Stratofortress bomber.
A sensor-only version of the AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) flew on a B-52 on June 12 out of Edwards Air Force Base, California, and gathered environmental and aircraft-handling data, the service said June 13.
“The test gathered data on drag and vibration impacts on the weapon itself and on the external carriage equipment of the aircraft,” the Air Force said in a statement. “The prototype did not have explosives and it was not released from the B-52 during the flight test. This type of data collection is required for all Air Force weapon systems undergoing development.”
The Air Force awarded Lockheed up to $480 million to design and build the ARRW weapon in August 2018. The company is also developing the air-launched Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW) for the service (Defense Daily, August 13, 2018).
ARRW completed a preliminary design review this past March, and more ground and flight testing is expected over the next three years, according to the company.
“With hypersonic capabilities being a national security priority, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Air Force are accelerating the maturation and fielding of a hypersonic weapon system,” said Frank St. John, executive vice president at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, in a June 17 statement.
The Air Force is about two years away from an initial hypersonics capability with HCSW, said Will Roper, the service’s acquisition executive, in February during a media roundtable. He said he expects ARRW to reach initial operating capability (IOC) about six months after HCSW (Defense Daily, Feb. 8).