The US Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin a US$928m contract to develop a missile that will travel more than five times faster than the speed of sound to overcome enemy defenses. The move to push the development of hypersonic missiles is widely seen as a response to the moves by Russia and China to develop hypersonic weapons.
Under the indefinite-delivery and indefinite-quantity contract, Lockheed Martin will develop the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW), a new air-launched weapon system. The first phase of the project will see Lockheed work with the US Air Force to finalize the system requirements. Future phases will progress through design, flight test, initial production and deployment of the weapon system at early operational capability. The maximum amount payable to Lockheed under the contract is US$928m.
John Snyder, vice president of Air Force Strategic Programs at Lockheed Martin, said, “Our goal is rapid development and fielding of the HCSW system, and this contract is the first step in achieving that goal. Design, development, production, integration and test experts from across Lockheed Martin will partner with the Air Force to achieve early operational capability and deliver the system to our warfighters. We are incredibly proud to be leading this effort.”
The HCSW team will primarily work in Huntsville, Alabama; Valley Forge, Pennsylvania; and Orlando, Florida; with additional expertise in Denver, Colorado, and Sunnyvale, California. Lockheed Martin added that it has developed and flown more hypersonic vehicles than any other US company and has decades of hypersonic development and flight test experience from government contracts and R&D projects.