The U.S. Dept. of Defense assigned a $1.18-billion contract to Lockheed Martin to work with the U.S. Navy to integrate hypersonic missile-strike capability to the current Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyers. Lockheed noted the award could be worth more than $2 billion if all options are exercised.
The project involves adapting the U.S. Army’s hypersonic weapon capabilities – the so-called Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) weapon systems – for surface-launched, sea-based hypersonic strike capability.
According to the defense giant, it will provide the Navy with launcher systems, weapon control, All Up Rounds (AURs – or the integrated missile components), and platform integration support. The project is on track to provide hypersonic strike capability to the U.S. Navy by the mid-2020s.
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 represent one of DoD’s top developmental priorities, including establishing a secure domestic supply base: Lockheed has been active in the development and testing of hypersonic missiles with the U.S. Air Force, and has initiated manufacturing of the missiles for the U.S. Army and Navy at its plant in Courtland, Ala.
The new contract also provides for additional AURs plus canisters for the U.S. Army's Long Range Hypersonic Weapon testing, training and tactical employment.
The U.S. Navy partnership will include Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics Mission Systems as subcontractors, according to Lockheed.
Lockheed vice president of Hypersonic Strike Weapon Systems Steve Layne revealed that "early design work is already underway,” for the U.S. Navy program. “Our team looks forward to supporting the warfighter by providing more options to further protect America at sea."