The U.S. Air Force has awarded Raytheon Missiles & Defense a nearly $1-billion ($985,348,124) contract to produce and demonstrate the U.S. Air Force’s Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile (HACM).
HACM is an air-launched, scramjet-powered hypersonic weapon designed to target high-value assets at risk in contested environments from standoff distances. HACM is a piece of hardware powered by an air-breathing engine capable of traveling in the upper atmosphere at 6,200 km/h (3,853 mph) or more than five times the speed of sound. By traveling at these speeds, hypersonic weapons, like HACM, are able to reach their targets more quickly than similar traditional missiles, allowing them to potentially evade defensive systems.
In 2020, the U.S. Air Force engaged in a multi-year, bilateral project arrangement with Australia known as the Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE) to develop air-breathing hypersonic cruise missile prototypes. The Air Force awarded three 15-month SCIFiRE contracts in June 2021 to Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon Technologies to complete preliminary designs of a hypersonic cruise missile. And the USAF has now selected Raytheon Missiles & Defense to advance to the next phase of development.
“Raytheon Missiles & Defense continues to be at the forefront of hypersonic weapon and air-breathing technology development,” said Wes Kremer, president of Raytheon Missiles & Defense. “With advanced threats emerging around the globe, the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile will provide our warfighters a much-needed capability.”
Raytheon will work on the project for this first-of-its-kind weapon together with Northrop Grumman. HACM is being developed in conjunction with the Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment, a U.S. and Australia project arrangement.
“The Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile creates a new class of strategically important weapons for the U.S. military,” said Mary Petryszyn, corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman Defense Systems. “Our scramjet propulsion technology is ushering in a new era for faster, more survivable, and highly capable weapons.”
The USAF plans to deliver a HACM capability with operational utility by the fiscal year 2027.