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DARPA, USAF prepare to fly HAWC variants later this year

The US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the US Air Force (USAF) on 1 September announced the successful completion of captive carry tests of two variants of the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC). The risk reduction milestone paves the way for the variants to proceed to initial free-flight testing later this year.

The HAWC prototyping activity is being advanced under separate research contracts issued by DARPA to Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies in September and October 2016, respectively. “HAWC performers Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies have each tested advanced air vehicle configurations that promise to achieve and sustain efficient hypersonic flight. Their upcoming flight tests will focus on hydrocarbon scramjet-powered propulsion and thermal management techniques to enable prolonged hypersonic cruise, in addition to affordable system designs and manufacturing approaches,” DARPA said in a statement on 1 September.

DARPA’s Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (DARPA)

DARPA’s Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (DARPA)

A follow-on development of DARPA’s earlier Integrated Hypersonics Programme, HAWC aims to mature and demonstrate critical technologies to inform the development and flight testing of an effective and affordable air-launched hypersonic cruise missile, and is intended to deliver transformational long-range strike capabilities against time-critical or heavily defended targets.

Critical technologies include advanced air vehicle configurations capable of efficient flight; hydrocarbon scramjet (Supersonic Combustion Ramjet)-powered propulsion to enable sustained hypersonic cruise; thermal management approaches designed for high-temperature cruise, and affordable system designs and manufacturing approaches.

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