Raytheon secures more funding to test hypersonic cruise missile for DARPA


Raytheon, in partnership with Northrop Grumman, secured a follow-on contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to conduct additional test flights of the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC). 

Under the $81 million contract, the Raytheon-led team will take on the task of constructing and deploying additional HAWC flight vehicles. 

“We applied learnings from each successful HAWC flight test to ensure that it is the most sophisticated system of its kind,” said Colin Whelan, president of Advanced Technology for Raytheon. “Continuing this important program will expand our knowledge of hypersonic flight and allow us to deliver the critical capability our warfighters need.” 

What is the HAWC? 

The HAWC is a joint program of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the United States Air Force to develop a scramjet-powered weapon capable of reaching speeds greater than Mach 5 (over 6,000 kilometers per hour). Northrop Grumman supplied Raytheon with scramjet engines. Lockheed Martin also developed its own prototype for the program, collaborating with the rocket manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne. 

“Air-breathing vehicles use air captured from the atmosphere to achieve sustained propulsion,” DARPA explains. “The speed and maneuverability of such hypersonic cruise missiles allow both evasion of defenses and quick strikes.”  

The maiden flight of Raytheon’s HAWC took place on September 27, 2021. Since then, the HAWC operational prototype systems have achieved numerous successful flight tests. 

In parallel, the team was chosen in September 2022 to undertake the development of the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile (HACM), which aims to deliver an operational weapon to the USAF based on the research conducted for the HAWC and SCIFiRE hypersonic programs.  

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