Military

US Air Force sets sights on second hypersonic weapon

This is the second hypersonic contract to be awarded to Lockheed
This is the second hypersonic contract to be awarded to Lockheed
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This is the second hypersonic contract to be awarded to Lockheed
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This is the second hypersonic contract to be awarded to Lockheed

The US Air Force seems to be taking the threat of hypersonic missiles seriously, having just awarded Lockheed Martin a second contract worth up to US$480 million to develop a second prototype missile capable of flying at over five times the speed of sound. The Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) is part of an effort to "explore the art-of-the-possible" with the goal of providing the Air Force with a hypersonic missile by 2021.

Hypersonic missiles have the potential of being as great a game changer on the battlefield of tomorrow as the introduction of supersonic jets were almost 75 years ago. If any major power could field a practical weapon system in large numbers, it would be able to literally fly past any air defense currently deployed to reach its target without opposition.

Though there have been a number of claims by Russia and China that they have such a weapon, definite proof is still wanting, but there is a real arms race afoot as the USA, China, Russia, Germany, Britain, India, Australia, and even Indonesia conduct research into various aspects and problems of flying at Mach 5 (3,800 mph, 6,125 km/h) and above.

The US Air Force's latest contract is to provide the ARRW project with needed critical design review, test, and production readiness to fast track the development of a second prototype weapon on the heels of the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW), which Lockheed is also working on. This follows an agreement by the US Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency, Air Force, Navy, and Army to cooperate on advancing hypersonic boost glide technology as quickly as possible.

"The Joint Team requires the right mix of agile capabilities to compete, deter and win across the spectrum of competition and conflict," says Air Force Chief of Staff General David L Goldfein. "We must push the boundaries of technology and own the high ground in this era of great power competition and beyond."

The new contract allows Lockheed to start work on the ARRW prototype straight away, with the final terms to be sorted out within 180 days. The new project will draw on experience from the Air Force/DARPA partnership, though the Air Force says that ARRW is taking a different technical approach to HCSW.

"We are going to go fast and leverage the best technology available to get hypersonic capability to the warfighter as soon as possible," says Secretary of the Air Force Heather A. Wilson.

Source: US Air Force

4 comments
Mik-Fielding
"the introduction of supersonic jets were almost 75 years ago"?? The first aircraft to fly at supersonic speeds was a Bell X-1 rocket-powered research plane piloted by Major Charles E. Yeager of the U.S. Air Force on October 14, 1947. The first supersonic jet was the Douglas F4D Skyray that first flew on 23 January 1951. That being 67 years ago, I wonder where this "almost 75 years ago" statement comes from. Perhaps confused with the first operational jet fighter, the Messerschmitt Me 262 which first first flew under jet power in 1942, but was not operational until 1944. This was certainly not supersonic.
EZ
Who, at the congressional level, is authorizing all these super expensive war machines??? We need to stop wasting money on these machines that are designed to keep the war economy rolling. At least until the economy crashes, which is what some economists are predicting. Who actually controls all this stuff and keeps it secret from the citizens? This country needs to stop being a war monger and start doing things to get our government spending under control, including what it's being spent on. We spend massive amounts of money on war crap--more than what all the other industrialized countries spend combined. This insanity needs to stop.
jerryd
We already have them, they are called rockets, missiles! And they go much faster too and simple, cheap to build. Hypersonic is a scam and nothing it can do missiles can't. Missiles can just go suborbital and get any range they want. As can ramjets at a slower speed of 2k mph. There really isn't much need for hypersonic as these cover those missions too. Note fast future travel are suborbital, what the private rides to space are really about, taking passengers from NYC to Tokyo in an hour, etc , the real big market they are going for. KISS
Tom Swift
Isn't a Hypersonic missile just a low flying ICBM? we already have that technology.
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