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Update: USAF advances SCIFiRE development

The US Air Force (USAF) Future Hypersonics office in late August/early September exercised follow-on contract options with Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon Technologies to mature a conventionally armed solid-rocket boosted, air-breathing, hypersonic air-launched cruise missile prototype to Preliminary Design Review stage for the Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE) project.

The awards – amounting to USD39.6 million, USD27.1 million, and USD27.9 million respectively – are modifications to Phase 1 contracts awarded in June this year, which saw the SCIFiRE programme achieve the System Requirements Review milestone. The cumulative value of the awards is USD47.2 million, USD33.5 million, and USD33.7million respectively, with work expected to be completed by 31 August 2022 (Boeing, Lockheed Martin) and 2 September 2022 (Raytheon, in partnership with Northrop Grumman). Raytheon Technologies and Northrop Grumman signed a teaming agreement in June 2019 to develop, produce, and integrate Northrop Grumman's scramjet combustors to power Raytheon's air-breathing hypersonic weapons.

SCIFiRE is a collaborative research and technology agreement established between the US Department of Defense (DoD) and the Australian Department of Defence (‘Defence') on 30 November 2020 under the auspices of the Allied Prototyping Initiative (API). The programme builds on legacy US/Australian hypersonics research collaboration established in 2007 under the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HIFiRE) programme between the US Air Force Research Laboratory, the US Navy, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Headquarters, the Australian Defence Science and Technology Group, and partners Boeing Research and technology in the US, and the University of Queensland, in Australia. The most recent HIFiRE test, successfully conducted in July 2017, explored the flight dynamics of a Mach8 hypersonic glide vehicle, while previous tests explored scramjet engine technologies.

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