DARPA Completes Final Hypersonic Airbreathing Weapon Concept Test



Artist’s idea of the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapons Idea (HAWC) car after booster separation. (Picture: Lockheed Martin)

The information acquired can be used for the Extra Alternatives HAWC program and different hypersonic applied sciences.

The Protection Superior Analysis Tasks Company (DARPA) recently announced the profitable completion of the ultimate take a look at of the Hypersonic Airbreathing Weapon Idea, engaging in all this system’s targets. HAWC is the joint DARPA/U.S. Air Drive effort that seeks to develop and display vital applied sciences to allow an efficient and inexpensive air-launched hypersonic cruise missile.

The information gathered throughout the take a look at can be used to tell Air Drive Analysis Laboratory (AFRL) hypersonic expertise maturation efforts. “This month’s flight added an exclamation level to probably the most profitable hypersonic airbreathing flight take a look at program in US historical past,” mentioned Walter Worth, an Air Drive deputy for the HAWC program. “The issues we’ve discovered from HAWC will definitely improve future U.S. Air Drive capabilities.”

The ultimate take a look at used the Lockheed Martin model of the missile, which is propelled by an Aerojet Rocketdyne scramjet and already carried out another test flight in March 2022. The missile, launched from a B-52, flew at speeds larger than Mach 5, larger than 60,000 ft, and farther than 300 nautical miles, says the press launch, demonstrating improved capabilities and efficiency over the earlier take a look at.

The weapon, designed by Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works and Aerojet Rocketdyne with low-cost superior manufacturing applied sciences, prioritizing excessive sturdiness to vastly cut back piece and half price through the use of a purposeful integration of digital applied sciences all through the design, take a look at, and manufacturing course of.

“Affordability and reliability are important as we work to develop operational hypersonic options,” mentioned John Clark, vice president and general manager Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. “Each of our HAWC flight checks launched from an operational plane and matched efficiency fashions and predictions to assist inexpensive, fast growth of future hypersonic weapons.”

The HAWC program evaluated additionally one other missile configuration designed by Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, which flew in September 2021 and July 2022. According to DARPA, the missile achieved velocity, altitude and vary just like those reached by Lockheed Martin’s variant of the missile. The HAWC program used each designs to handle three vital expertise problem areas, air car feasibility, effectiveness, and affordability.

Artist’s idea of the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapons Idea (HAWC) car and booster. (Picture: DARPA)

Among the many technologies of interest examined there are superior air car configurations able to environment friendly hypersonic flight, hydrocarbon scramjet-powered propulsion to allow sustained hypersonic cruise, approaches to managing the thermal stresses of high-temperature cruise and inexpensive system designs and manufacturing approaches.

“The HAWC program created a technology of recent hypersonic engineers and scientists,” mentioned Andrew “Tippy” Knoedler, the HAWC program supervisor. “HAWC additionally introduced a wealth of information and progress to the airbreathing hypersonic group. The business groups attacked the problem of scramjet-powered automobiles in earnest, and we had the grit and luck to make it work.”

Hypersonic air-breathing automobiles make the most of air captured from the environment to attain sustained propulsion with out the necessity of rotating components. The fast-moving, compressed air stream coming by means of the scramjet engine’s inlet is blended with a hydrocarbon gas and ignites, earlier than being ejected trough a nozzle which propels the missile at a velocity larger than 5 instances the velocity of sound.

The velocity and maneuverability of hypersonic cruise missiles enable each evasion of defenses, as velocity and maneuverability make it troublesome to detect in a well timed means, and fast strikes. Their important kinetic vitality can successfully destroy targets even with out excessive explosives.

With HAWC program finishing the take a look at actions, DARPA now plans to proceed that maturation within the Extra Alternatives with HAWC (MOHAWC) program by constructing and flying extra automobiles that construct upon HAWC’s advances. These missiles will develop the working envelope of the scramjet and supply expertise on-ramps for future packages of file.

The completion of the HAWC program follows the primary profitable launch of the full prototype operational missile of the troubled AGM-183A Air-launched Fast Response Weapon in December 2022. Whereas the primary checks centered on the booster efficiency, which is required with a purpose to attain supersonic velocity and ignite the scramjet, the most recent take a look at centered on all the operational flight profile of the missile, the power to achieve its goal and detonate within the terminal space.

Stefano D’Urso is a contract journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based mostly in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he is additionally learning to attain a Grasp Diploma in Aerospace Engineering. Digital Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT strategies utilized to the world of army operations and present conflicts are amongst his areas of experience.


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