The U.S. Air Force has awarded Raytheon Missile & Defense an approximately $1 billion ($985,348,124) contract to build and demonstrate the U.S. Air Force’s Hypersonic Cruise Missile (HACM).
The HACM is an air-launched, scramjet-powered hypersonic weapon designed to target high-value assets at risk in hostile environments from a distance. HACM is hardware with an airbreathing engine that can travel in the upper atmosphere at 6,200 km/h (3,853 mph), or more than five times his speed of sound. By traveling at these speeds, hypersonic weapons like HACM can reach targets faster than similar conventional missiles, potentially evading defensive systems.
In 2020, the U.S. Air Force engaged in a multi-year bilateral project agreement with Australia known as the Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFIRE) to develop a prototype air-breathing hypersonic cruise missile. The Air Force has awarded Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies three of his 15-month SCIFiRE contracts in June 2021 to complete preliminary designs of hypersonic cruise missiles. And USAF chose Raytheon Missiles & Defense to move to the next stage of development.
Wes Kremer, President of Raytheon Missiles & Defense, said: “As advanced threats emerge around the world, hypersonic attack cruise missiles provide a much-needed capability for our fighter aircraft.”
Raytheon will work with Northrop Grumman on the project for the first weapon of its kind. HACM is being developed in conjunction with the Southern Cross Comprehensive Flight Research Experiment, a project agreement between the United States and Australia.
Mary Petrichin, corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman Defense Systems, said: “Our scramjet propulsion technology is ushering in a new era of faster, more survivable and capable weapons.”
USAF plans to deliver HACM capabilities with operational utilities by fiscal year 2027.
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