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Nick Wakeman

Raytheon tapped for hypersonic R&D work

Raytheon Co. has won a $174.7 million contract from DARPA to continue its research into weapons that can be fired at supersonic speed.

The Raytheon win follows a Lockheed Martin award for similar work in September. The Lockheed contract is valued at $171.2 million.

The research work is part of a DARPA-Air Force project known as the Hypersonic Air-Breathing Weapon Concept.

According to DARPA, the goal is develop systems that can operate at hypersonic speeds, or five times the speed of sound. Also, known as Mach 5 and beyond.

Weapons systems that can operate at these speeds would revolutionize warfare, making it possible to conduct military operations from longer ranges and with shorter response times and greater effectiveness, compared to current systems.

DARPA says these kinds of capabilities would “provide significant payoff for future U.S. offensive strike operations, particularly as adversaries’ capabilities advance.”

The goal is to develop an affordable air-launched hypersonic cruise missile.

The contracts won by Raytheon and Lockheed will validate key technologies to accomplish this goal.

DARPA wants the HAWC program, as it is known, to have flight demonstrates that would look at technologies such as advanced air vehicle configurations for hypersonic flight, hydrocarbon scramjet-powered propulsion for sustained hypersonic cruising, and approaches for managing heat stresses of high-temperate cruising.

They are also interested in affordable systems design and manufacturing approaches.

DARPA also is interested in how reusable hypersonic air platforms can be applied to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and space access.

This last part is what I feel is most interesting. DARPA is rightly looking at these hypersonic technology not just as something that goes really fast but also at its potential to be an information platform.

For more contract awards, see our WT Insider-exclusive Contract Award Database, featuring every award we have covered since January 2013. 

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Oct 31, 2016 at 8:53 AM


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