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Raytheon-Northrop Grumman team complete second HAWC test

The Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapons Concept from the Raytheon and Northrop Grumman team completed a second free flight test. (Raytheon Missiles & Defense )

A Raytheon and Northrop Grumman team completed the second free flight test of a Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) for a joint Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and US Air Force (USAF) effort.

DARPA released details about the event on 18 July and said that during the test, the weapon's scramjet engine, built by Northrop Grumman, ignited after it was released from an aircraft. The HAWC then flew at speeds greater than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5) for over 300 n miles, and reached altitudes greater than 60,000 ft.

The weapon achieves hypersonic speeds as the scramjet engine compresses air before combustion, using a “widely available hydrocarbon fuel”. It does not need an oxidiser, which reduces the weapon's weight, according to the team.

Raytheon and Northrop Grumman said in a separate press release dated 18 July that this was a ‘successful' HAWC test that “met all primary and secondary objectives, including demonstrating tactical range capabilities”. It “flew a trajectory that engineers designed to intentionally stress the weapon concept to explore its limits and further validate digital performance models”, the companies added.

The team completed a previous flight test with the weapon in September 2021. Following that test, DARPA said primary objectives, including vehicle integration, booster ignition, engine ignition, and cruise were met.

The Raytheon and Northrop Grumman team is not the only pair working on the HAWC programme. Lockheed Martin is also building its version of the HAWC and completed a free flight test in mid-March.

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