Saturday, May 25, 2024

Raytheon, Northrop awarded the contract for hypersonic air-breathing weapons

In partnership with Northrop Grumman, Raytheon has been awarded a follow-on contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to reduce the risk for future air-breathing hypersonic systems.

Under the agreement, the Raytheon-led team will build and fly additional Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) flight vehicles.

The data and lessons learned from earlier stages of the program will be applied to mature the operationally relevant weapon concept design. The effort mainly focuses on incorporating manufacturing improvements into the existing HAWC design and flight tests to expand its operating envelope while validating system performance models.

The airframe and engine designs are closely aligned to the U.S. Air Force’s Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile (HACM), which will directly benefit from the continued advancements.

“The HAWC follow-on contract serves as an engine pathfinder program in our new production-ready Hypersonics Capability Center in Elkton, Maryland,” said Dan Olson, general manager and vice president of weapons systems, Northrop Grumman. “Our factory of the future will seamlessly transition our validated propulsion system design into an operationally ready system to support further flight testing.”

Raytheon and Northrop Grumman have been partners since 2013 and signed a teaming agreement in 2019 to design, manufacture and incorporate Northrop Grumman’s scramjet engine onto Raytheon’s air-breathing hypersonic weapons system. The team was selected to develop HACM, a first-of-its-kind weapon, in September 2022.

Moreover, the team has successfully completed multiple HAWC operational prototype system flight tests where digital engineering concepts, grounded in real-world flight data, have accurately predicted and increased system performance. Their combined efforts enabled the production of air-breathing hypersonic weapons, the next generation of tactical missile systems.