Military

Lockheed Martin to develop ground-launched hypersonic missile

Lockheed Martin to develop gro...
Artist's concept of hypersonic missiles acting as interceptors
Artist's concept of hypersonic missiles acting as interceptors
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Artist's concept of hypersonic missiles acting as interceptors
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Artist's concept of hypersonic missiles acting as interceptors

Lockheed Martin has been awarded US$31.9 million by DARPA for further development of a ground-launched, mobile, hypersonic missile system. The contract will allow the defense company to begin the Operational Fires (OpFires) Phase 3 Weapon System Integration program for the boost-to-glide weapon system.

With their ability to make controlled flight at five times the speed of sound at the edge of space, hypersonic weapons have the potential to be as big a military game-changer as the introduction of jet propulsion was after the Second World War. A missile flying at such speeds could penetrate and outrun any air defense system currently deployed while providing commanders with unprecedented abilities to strike with new speeds, range, flexibility, and precision.

The new contract, which involves Lockheed, DARPA, and the US Army, will draw on Lockheed's three decades of hypersonic missile development, combined with DARPA's work on new hypersonic propulsion systems and boost-glide technologies. Lockheed is tasked with taking the present design based on initial requirements and taking it through the Critical Design Review (CDR) in late 2021. This will be followed by component and subsystem tests in the same year and integrated flight tests in 2022.

"The OpFires missile is critical to providing the US Army with a highly maneuverable and rapid response solution capable of operating from unpredictable land-launch positions to suppress hostile threats," says Hady Mourad, director of Tactical and Strike Missiles Advanced Programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "Lockheed Martin will deliver the prototype missiles utilizing the experienced production teams that currently produce the ATACMS, GMLRS and PAC-3 missile systems in Camden, Arkansas."

Source: Lockheed Martin

9 comments
Graeme S
I feel safer .... not.
christopher
Just what we need - more ways to accidentally shoot down passenger airlines. 37 so far, and counting. I wonder how many actual military shoot-downs have succeeded - civilian ones might even outweigh them already...
Brian M
Why $31.9 million why not just $32 million? Always amazes me that the expectations of a cost prediction is that accurate, or is it just to make it look better like the classic 'but it now at just $9.99' bargain
paul314
Pretty quick response to the russian announcement of ostensibly ready-to-field hypersonic missiles. Or not.
clay
The goal is not to simply "feel safer", it is to actually counter high altitude offensive strike weapons. I recommend contemplating prior to writing thoughtful Comments.
Username
Clay, the motivation is actually to pound their chests and feel superior.
Douglas Rogers
The Russians are said to have a nuclear powered missile. This is also, effectively, single stage to orbit!
Nelson Hyde Chick
All these weapons worldwide, it almost makes their use inevitable. The only question what will destroy the earth first, our changing climate or use going to war with one another?
meofbillions
"This will be followed by component and subsystem tests in the same year and integrated flight tests in 2022." All corporate estimates on deadlines are 2 years hence. Then, in 2 years, they announce that the project will be completed in another 2 years.