DARPA Hypersonic Cruise Missile Prototype Succeeds In Test
A Raytheon-built hypersonic cruise missile built under the Defense Department’s classified Hypersonic Air-Breathing Weapons Concept (HAWC) program successfully completed its first flight last week, the department revealed, Theresa Hitchens reported for Breaking Defense.
Photo Insert: Raytheon hypersonic cruise missile
“The HAWC free flight test was a successful demonstration of the capabilities that will make hypersonic cruise missiles a highly effective tool for our warfighters,” said Andrew (Tippy) Knoedler, HAWC program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, in a press release this afternoon.
“This brings us one step closer to transitioning HAWC to a program of record that offers next-generation capability to the US military.”
“This is a history-making moment, and this success paves the way for an affordable, long-range hypersonic system in the near term to strengthen national security,” said Colin Whelan, vice president of advanced technology at Raytheon Missiles & Defense, in a statement.
“This test proves we can deliver the first operational hypersonic scramjet, providing a significant increase in warfighting capabilities.”
DARPA is running the HAWC project, which is aimed at fleshing out the underlying technologies required for scramjet-powered hypersonic cruise missiles. The Air Force is the advanced research agency’s transition partner for the project.
The first HAWC free-flight test was initially planned for late last year, following a successful Sept. 2020 captive carry test for both the Raytheon missile and a competing variant built by Lockheed Martin.
That test, as first reported by Air Force Magazine, reportedly would have involved the Lockheed Martin missile, but was scrubbed due to problems.
During last week’s test, DARPA said, the scramjet engine built by Northrop Grumman “compressed incoming air mixed with its hydrocarbon fuel and began igniting that fast-moving airflow mixture, propelling the cruiser at a speed greater than Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound).”