Raytheon gets DARPA funds for hypersonic weapon project

02 November 2016
Artist's rendering of separated HSSW vehicle in flight. The USAF is expected to conduct a demonstration of the system - a joint development with DARPA - around 2020. There are two main efforts feeding the HSSW demonstration. The first is the HAWC, and the second is the TBG programme. Raytheon has received a USD174 million contract for work on the former. Source: DARPA

Raytheon has been awarded a USD174 million contract for work on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA's) Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) programme, according to a 28 October Pentagon announcement.

USD3.4 million of the cost-plus-fixed-fee deal was awarded, according to the announcement. HAWC is a joint project with the US Air Force (USAF) to "develop and demonstrate critical technologies to enable an effective and affordable air-launched hypersonic cruise missile", according to DARPA.

Raytheon and Lockheed Martin are both working on HAWC projects. The latter is also working on DARPA's Tactical Boost-Glide (TBG) programme. Both HAWC and TBG are feeding into the USAF's High Speed Strike Weapon (HSSW) effort, which the service intends to demonstrate around 2020.

US government agencies are developing hypersonic technology for short-term and long-term goals. The near-term goals are hypersonic weapons that are expected to mature in the early 2020s and unmanned surveillance aircraft in the late 2020s or early 2030s, with hypersonic vehicles to follow in the longer term. Air-breathing access to space is a much longer-term goal. The general development strategy is to start small with weapons and to then scale up to aircraft and space vehicles as the technology and materials mature.

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