The US Air Force Intends To Develop A Hypersonic Cruise Missile
The US air force is waiting for industry information about hypersonic cruise missile technologies in the hope of launching a new prototype program in the near future, according to the Defense News.
The air force sent out a notice on April 27 asking industrial companies to provide information about hypersonic cruise missiles with jet engines and conventional warheads that can be launched from fighters and bombers.
Industry responses will help the air force determine whether to start funding the new program and find out how quickly it will be possible to adopt new weapons as a result of its implementation, said will Roper, the air force's Executive Director for procurement.
"In the case of how fast we could go with the scramjet technology getting into cruise missile and missionizing it, I think we can go fast," he told reporters on April 30.
In accordance with the received proposal, the air force will seek to conduct a preliminary analysis of the project in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year 2021. The proposed technologies should include ramjet, hypersonic ramjet, or dual-mode engines, which is the main difference from the hypersonic weapons currently being developed by the Ministry of defense, all types of which are gliding guided vehicles with acceleration boosters.
According to Roper, deployable hypersonic weapons using gliding hypersonic blocks with acceleration boosters have many advantages. Hypersonic aircraft with upper stage engines are flying just below the space, above the "dense atmosphere," which will fly the missile with a scramjet. This allows missiles to perform certain tasks and goals that cannot be implemented for hypersonic aircraft with acceleration boosters. It will also allow the defense Department to diversify companies that can produce hypersonic weapons, he said.
According to Roper, efforts to create hypersonic cruise missiles will be carried out with the participation of the US air force Research laboratory and the office for Advanced Research of the US Department of Defense (DARPA).
In particular, the concept of hypersonic weapons with the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept, developed by DARPA, can serve as the basis for a new program. As part of this effort, the Raytheon - Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin - Aerojet Rocketdyne group are creating hypersonic vehicles with this technology.
The air force can begin implementing a new hypersonic weapons program just a few months after the closure of one of the two development programs, namely the hypersonic strike weapons program with a non-nuclear warhead HCSW (Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon). Although the HCSW program showed promising results and was ready for flight testing, the air force abandoned it in February when forming the budget for the fiscal year 2021 in favor of the ARRW (Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon).
Both the ARRW and HCSW are planning weapons with an overclocking accelerator created by Lockheed, but the air force decided to use the ARRW because IT was more affordable and could be installed in large numbers on B-52 and F-15 aircraft, Roper said.