The U.S. Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded Lockheed Martin $31.9 million to further develop ground-launched, mobile hypersonic missile systems,media reported. The contract will allow the defense company to start the Operational Fires Phase 3 Weapon System Integration project.
The hypersonic weapon, which has the ability to fly at five times the speed of sound at the edge of space, will likely become a game-changer for the military, as it did in jet propulsion technology after World War II. Missiles flying at this speed can penetrate and exceed any air defense system currently deployed, while providing commanders with unprecedented capabilities to strike targets with new speeds, ranges, flexibility and precision.
In addition to DARPA and Lockheed Martin, the U.S. Army is also involved in the project. They will leverage Lockheed Martin’s 30 years of experience in the development of hypersonic missiles and combine DARPA’s technology in the new high-speed supersonic propulsion system and booster gliding technology.
Lockheed Martin is tasked with designing according to initial requirements and passing a critical design review by the end of 2021. After that, it will conduct component and subsystem testing in the same year and comprehensive flight testing in 2022.