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Raytheon, Northrop Grumman secure further hypersonic weapon development contract
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Raytheon, Northrop Grumman secure further hypersonic weapon development contract
by Brad Bartz
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Jul 18, 2023

Raytheon, an RTX business entity, and Northrop Grumman Corporation have obtained a subsequent contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to progress in the field of air-breathing hypersonic systems. This contract signals a commitment to the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) as the companies seek to construct and test additional flight vehicles.

The ambitious partnership, which has been working in sync since 2013, will employ learnings and data accumulated from preceding stages of the program to further refine the weapon concept design. Colin Whelan, president of Advanced Technology for Raytheon, highlighted the significance of the agreement. He emphasized, "Continuing this important program will expand our knowledge of hypersonic flight and allow us to deliver the critical capability our warfighters need."

The main objective of the renewed effort is to integrate manufacturing improvements into the existing HAWC design. By doing so, the teams aim to broaden its operational scope while simultaneously validating system performance models. The airframe and engine designs maintain a close alignment with the U.S. Air Force's Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile (HACM), which will stand to gain from the continuous advancements.

Dan Olson, General Manager and Vice President, Weapons Systems, Northrop Grumman, provided insight into the practical implications of the contract. He said, "The HAWC follow-on contract serves as an engine pathfinder program in our new production-ready Hypersonics Capability Center in Elkton, Maryland." This state-of-the-art facility is poised to usher in a new era of hypersonic propulsion system design, driving it towards operational readiness and supporting further flight testing.

The partnership between Raytheon and Northrop Grumman solidified in 2019 when both parties signed a teaming agreement. The collaboration's objective is to develop, manufacture, and integrate Northrop Grumman's scramjet engines onto Raytheon's air-breathing hypersonic weapons. In a significant development, the team was chosen in September 2022 to develop the HACM, a pioneering weapon in its domain.

Over the years, the collaboration has demonstrated its efficacy through successful completion of multiple HAWC operational prototype system flight tests. The tests have employed digital engineering concepts, which, grounded in real-world flight data, have accurately predicted and boosted system performance. This progressive approach is key to the production of the next generation of tactical missile systems - the air-breathing hypersonic weapons.

This contract signifies a major step forward in the evolution of hypersonic weapon technology. Raytheon and Northrop Grumman's persistent efforts hold the potential to revolutionize the defense industry and present an upgraded tactical advantage for the U.S. military.

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