DARPA completes first tests of two variants of hypersonic missiles

US speeds up development of hypersonic cruise missiles with a goal of competing with China and Russia

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) completed captive carry tests of a hypersonic missile, a statement by the agency said. 

"DARPA and the U.S. Air Force (USAF) today announced successful completion of captive carry tests of two variants of the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) and are ready to proceed to first free-flight testing within the calendar year," the statement said. "The joint Agency and Service effort seeks to develop and demonstrate critical technologies to enable an effective and affordable air-launched hypersonic cruise missile."

Lockheed Martin and Raytheon each checked advanced configurations that promise to achieve and sustain hypersonic flight. Their upcoming flight tests will focus on propulsion  techniques and thermal management operated by the Scramjet motor to enable prolonged hypersonic cruise, in addition to system designs and manufacturing approaches.   

“Completing the captive carry series of tests demonstrates both HAWC designs are ready for free flight,” said Andrew “Tippy” Knoedler, HAWC program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office. He said the tests provide program members with a large measure of confidence that gives them faith in the unique design path they embarked on.

DARPA added that "The HAWC program, since inception, has been executed as a joint program between DARPA and the USAF. In addition, DARPA is working in cooperation with military services and agencies, including the Missile Defense Agency, U.S. Navy, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to validate, and eventually transition key technologies. The extensive flight data collected is intended to increase the confidence in air-breathing hypersonic systems and reduce the risks to potential future acquisition programs across the U.S. government."

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