—JOHN A. TIRPAK
The Air Force has picked Lockheed Martin Space of Huntsville, Ala. to prototype the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon under a contract valued at $928 million.
The service said the effort, known as HCSW, which Air Force officials said is pronounced “Hacksaw,” is “one of two hypersonic weapon prototyping efforts being pursued by the Air Force to accelerate hypersonics research and development. The Air Force is using prototyping to explore the art-of-the-possible and to advance these technologies to a capability as soon as possible.” The weapon would be air-launched.
“We won’t be able to say much more on this,” said an Air Force spokeswoman, due to the classification of the program and USAF’s recent move to keep mum in light of the “great power competition” with Russia and China and its desire to restrict potentially useful operational information.
The other hypersonics missile effort USAF is pursuing is the “Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon,” (ARRW), also known as “Arrow.” Additionally, the Air Force Research Lab is pursuing hypersonic concepts. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is pursuing both a Tactical Boost-Glide (TBG) concept as well as the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC), which is largely being funded by the Air Force. The Navy has its own hypersonic weapon programs underway.
In its solicitation for the HCSW last summer, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Long Range Systems Directorate at Eglin AFB, Fla., said it wanted competitors known to have capabilities in the hypersonics regime. It asked for a weapon that could be launched by a fighter or bomber, and wanted the contractor to integrate “mission planning operations and support.”
In describing the HCSW, the AFLCMC said the weapon would provide “a prompt [hypersonic/hypervelocity] precision strike capability against high-value, time-critical fixed and relocatable surface targets in a single or multi-theater, challenged [A2/AD] environment. It will utilize Global Positioning System … and Inertial Guidance System … for navigation and terminal guidance with a government-furnished … warhead.” The solicitation said the contract would carry the project through Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD).
The Lockheed contract amount reflects the expected dollar value of the contract, but is not all being obligated at once. The contract is of the indefinite delivery indefinite quantity type, which means money will be spent in increments as “task orders are issued and awarded.” The service said this type of contract is “ideal for prototyping efforts such as HCSW because it allows for flexibility during the learning process at the heart of prototyping.” The firsts such task order is expected “in the next few weeks.”
Lockheed Martin Vice President for Air Force Strategic Programs John Snyder said through a spokeswoman that the company is “committed to the development of state-of-the-art hypersonic technologies, and we are excited to get to work on the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon program.”
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