A Lockheed Martin-led team conducted a successful flight test of a new hypersonic weapon concept, achieving speeds above Mach 5 and altitudes higher than 65,000 feet. A release by the research consortium stated that the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) test flight “furthers the understanding of operations in the high-speed flight regime.”
Similar tests conducted during Q4 2021 reportedly failed, according to independent reports citing the U.S. Air Force.
Along with Lockheed, the research team includes the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), and Aerojet Rocketdyne.
Lockheed is known to be developing high-speed systems for combating high-value targets quickly from hundreds or even thousands of miles away – so-called, hypersonic weapons. Hypersonic systems are among the U.S. Dept. of Defense’s top developmental priorities, along with establishing secure domestic supply base. In May 2021, Lockheed along with Northrop Grumman conducted a live-fire hypersonic strike test system, and in October the company announced a new manufacturing plant for hypersonic missile systems in Courtland, Ala.
While the Dept. of Defense has expressed confidence in the Lockheed hypersonic weapons concept, a Bloomberg report indicates that an operational system will not be available until the 2023 fiscal year.
Of the recent test, Lockheed added that it is “weaving a digital thread throughout the design, test and manufacturing process to ensure it can produce hypersonic systems at the rates required to meet the warfighter's need.”
“Our work with DARPA and AFRL on the HAWC program demonstrates that air-breathing hypersonic systems are a cost-effective solution to address rapidly emerging threats in the global security arena," said John Clark, vice president and general manager Lockheed Martin Skunk Works®. "The success of this flight test is evidence that a strong partnership between government and industry is key to solving our nation's most difficult challenges and enabling new capabilities to counter threats to U.S. and allied forces."