Raytheon and Northrop Grumman Secure Contract for Hypersonic Missile Systems

by Warren Seah

Raytheon and Northrop Grumman Corp. have been granted a follow-on contract by the U.S. Defense Department to conduct further testing and development of ultra-high-speed hypersonic missile systems, as announced by executives from both companies. This contract, awarded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), aims to mitigate risks associated with these systems and incorporate manufacturing enhancements into their design.

Advancing Hypersonic “Air-breathing” Weapon Concept (HAWC)

Under this agreement, an expert team led by Raytheon will undertake the construction and flight testing of innovative devices called Hypersonic “Air-breathing” Weapon Concept (HAWC) flight vehicles. These vehicles utilize atmospheric air to propel themselves and achieve speeds surpassing the boundaries of sound. The knowledge gained from successful HAWC flight tests has been systematically applied to optimize this cutting-edge system.

Colin Whelan, President of Advanced Technology for Raytheon (recently rebranded as RTX), emphasized the sophistication of the HAWC system, “We have leveraged insights from each successful HAWC flight test to ensure that our system remains at the forefront of its kind.” He further commented, “Continuing with this vital program will expand our understanding of hypersonic flight and enable us to deliver the critical capabilities required by our military personnel.”

A Longstanding Partnership

The collaboration between Raytheon and Northrop Grumman dates back to 2013. In 2019, a significant milestone was achieved when both companies signed an agreement to integrate Northrop Grumman’s scramjet engines into Raytheon’s air-breathing hypersonic weapons. This partnership underscores their shared commitment to advancing hypersonic technology and ensuring the readiness of our armed forces.

Understanding the integral role played by these defense developers in propelling hypersonic missile systems forward lends undeniable importance to their latest contract extension. By continuously pushing the boundaries of speed and performance, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman are contributing to the ever-evolving landscape of global military capabilities.

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