The US Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin a $928 million contract to develop a new missile that will travel more than five times faster than the speed of sound to overcome enemy defences.

Under the indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract, Lockheed Martin will develop the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW), a new air-launched weapon system. The company is working closely with the Air Force to finalise system requirements under the contract’s initial task order.

This is the first phase of a development programme, with future phases progressing through design, flight test, initial production and deployment of the weapon system at early operational capability. The contract ceiling through early operational capability is $928 million.

“Our goal is rapid development and fielding of the HCSW system, and this contract is the first step in achieving that goal,” said John Snyder, vice president of Air Force Strategic Programs at Lockheed Martin.

“Design, development, production, integration and test experts from across Lockheed Martin will partner with the Air Force to achieve early operational capability and deliver the system to our warfighters. We are incredibly proud to be leading this effort.”

Lockheed Martin has developed and flown more hypersonic vehicles than any other US company. The company says it has decades of hypersonic development and flight test experience from government contracts as well as internal investments in research and development projects.

16 COMMENTS

  1. Welcome western investment in R&D and purchases of these sorts of weapons and equipment programmes. For all its nonsense talk of 23000E aircraft carriers and the like, the sooner we can surge ahead of more realistic Russian hopes of any advantage in missile systems the better.

  2. Yes, but what will this missile be for? Anti ship? Anti infrastructure? Very little detail in the announcement. And it sounds as if it is still a few years away from fruition. Yet, it’s good to see that the West appears to finally be embracing hypersonic as a means of evading defences. Interesting to see what sort of CONOPS/CONUSE will emerge around such technology.

  3. This feels like a half assed announcement of a weapons system just so the US can say it has a hyper sonic weapon too.

    Seriously how useful will any of these weapons be.

      • That’s it, regarded by many as the future of weapons but it appears to be a weapon without a role.

        It’s a knee jerk reaction by the US based in perceived success by Russian and china in the field.

        • Well it will be far to late to wait or proven success won’t it. This seems a sensible if rather belated response if anything to a technology that we can’t afford to be wrong about if it is only in the hands of a potential enemy.

      • They are not the future.
        They are here and now and have been for decades.
        Hyper sonic or near hyper sonic weapons have been deployed by the Soviet and then Russian forces for very nearly 60 years. Yes….60 Years!
        AS4 Kitchen is still going strong in various forms and that was developed and deployed in the early 1960s. Its speed is depending on the flight profile you select if you go for a high diver it does a terminal dive from 90k ft at just about mach 5.
        Exercises and drills on RN ships when I joined in the early 80s often simulated AS4 or AS 6 high divers doing mach 4+. In the 90s on wards it was AS 15 Kickbacks doing Mach 5 and ARM Kryptons.
        Fast missiles are nothing new. Their profiles and performance is well known and drills and countermeasures exist to limit their effectiveness.

  4. Old Salt Blog. Are saying Quote: ‘China hacks the Sea Dragon’ stealing from a navy contractor computer more than 600GB of secret USA plans anti-ship missiles and highly sensitive data relating to undersea warfare. UN-quote If true, I wonder just how safe is our own UK security systems.

  5. hypersonic seems an odd path. with planes they are heading down the stealth/low radar signature, which seems a better path for missiles. The faster they are the more air they move and in turn the higher the heat signature and sound profile and in turn larger radar profile. Slower but more stealthy seems to be the trick to me but maybe I am missing something.

    • Steve, I think the issue with velocity is primarily that it reduces target response time. More difficult to intercept. Surface-to-air missiles and point defense systems are quite effective. Then you have a host of soft-kill systems that may be deployed to lure off an inbound missile. In practice, I think it will require significantly large missile raids to defeat a target with layered (hard and soft) anti-missile defenses. Hypersonic is one way around this.

    • Subsonic , supersonic or hypersonic all have pros and cons.
      Range , homing method and changes in flight profile are all factors.
      At slow speeds a small control surface movement does little to the flight profile and hence the angle of look for the homing head. At high speeds a little twitch can throw the missile off by many miles and the homing head look angle will no longer see the target.
      At high speeds IR homing efficiency is reduced due to aerodynamic heating so you go with radar or ARM homing. With radar that means the missile needs to transmit to see the target so it can be detected by ESM and countermeasures and decoys deployed. If its an ARM its a little more complex but modern LPI radars help along with EMCON processes where you don’t constantly transmit and frequency hop the radar. Again active offboard decoys help.

  6. The yanks must be light years in front in this kind of tec … They basically landed a high speed missile on the moon 1969/,250.000 miles away with pin point accuracy

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