Raytheon Technologies Co and Northrop Grumman Corp have drawn U.S. Dept. of Defense contract modifications to continue developing missiles able to intercept hypersonic weapons.
Hypersonic weapons are high-speed (Mach 5 or above) weapons that travel at suborbital heights, making them difficult for air-defense systems to track and intercept due to their speed and maneuverability. They have been named a top developmental priority for the U.S. Dept. of Defense, amid evidence of China’s successful tests of hypersonic weapons this year.
The Raytheon contract modification is valued at $41.5 million, increasing the total value of the agreement to $62.5 million. Raytheon’s assignment is to continue to refine its interceptor missile concept, toward a review of the system requirements for a prototype.
The Northrop Grumman award is worth $41.4 million and raises the total value of its agreement to $60.4 million. This contract modification calls for Northrop to continue developing its interceptor missile concept toward a review of the prototype.
Both of these contracts are for work to be completed by February 15, 2023
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency overseeing the Glide Interceptor Program, which aims to develop weapons that can track and destroy hypersonic missiles as they re-enter Earth atmosphere on track for a target.
Lockheed Martin had been included among the contractors chosen in November 2021 for initial contracts to develop prototypes for the Glide Interceptor Program. While it is now not involved in the next stage of that program, Lockheed is competing (versus Raytheon) to develop an air-launched hypersonic missile system, for a U.S. Air Force and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program called the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) effort. An April test of that prototype Lockheed hypersonic missile flew at five times the speed of sound “for an extended period,” and was declared a success by DARPA and the Pentagon.