The US Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin a US$928m (A$1.21bn) contract to develop a hypersonic cruise missile, to match similar systems reportedly in development by Russia and China.
A USAF statement says the contract will cover the “design, development, engineering, systems integration, test, logistics planning, and aircraft integration support of all the elements of a hypersonic, conventional, air-launched, stand-off weapon.”
Dubbed the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon, the program is one of two hypersonic weapons programs currently being conducted by the USAF to “explore the art-of-the-possible and to advance these technologies to a capability as quickly as possible.” The other is called the Tactical Boost Glide program which is being conducted with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
“Our adversaries are presenting us today with a renewed challenge of a sophisticated, evolving threat,” Michael Griffin, the new undersecretary of defense for research and engineering told US media on April 17. “We are in turn preparing to meet that challenge and to restore the technical overmatch of the United States armed forces that we have traditionally held.”