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Lockheed Martin wins second contract for hypersonic weapon

Tue Aug 14, 2018 9:57 pm
Not sure if there were any competitors, but in addition to the $928m April contract Lockheed secured for HCSW - they have now locked in an additional $480m for the air-launched ARRW variant. They mention IOC in 2021. :shock:

There's clearly a LARGE perceived threat with weapons of this classification from Russia and China, I'm guessing they probably know more than we do.
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Re: Lockheed Martin wins second contract for hypersonic weapon

Sat Aug 18, 2018 5:50 am

Would such a weapon have a warhead or would it be solely kinetic force from impact?
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Re: Lockheed Martin wins second contract for hypersonic weapon

Mon Aug 20, 2018 1:40 pm

TWA772LR wrote:
Would such a weapon have a warhead or would it be solely kinetic force from impact?

I think it would still need some sort of warhead, just based on the speed of the object I doubt it would be able to contain enough super-high-density material like tungsten or depleted uranium to cause enough kinetic damage - it would be too heavy.

Unfortunately these things seem to be at the forefront of every major military's priority list right now, which means for every little bit of info we receive, there's probably truckloads of data and research / testing taking place as I type this.

It's also probably one of the most top-secret programs (of this priority level at least) in the defense world at the moment.

I still find it very interesting how serious this seems to be. It's not like the govt is admitting any sort of panic, but if you connect the dots (RAPID RFI, proposals, bidding, contract awards, huge budgets, multiple concurrent projects, a ridiculously fast-tracked IOC date, etc) you can tell that this is a MAJOR major issue behind closed doors.

I'd imagine analysts have deemed the threat from Russian and Chinese variants of this missile type to be far more capable than we're aware of. It makes sense though - neither country is capable of matching the air power, naval power, or even ABM capabilities of the US military - save money on all of those fronts and simply dump it into a single project that has a very high probability of success instead. It seems that's exactly what they've done.

I think these weapons will end up being classified as essentially "nuclear" by NATO, in their implementation and usage - even if they're "conventional" in their construction. The thought of fielding a weapon that can't be intercepted puts it into a totally different classification, and almost goes back to the MAD theory of nukes. Sure you can fire one at us - but retaliation via the same weapon will ensure your own destruction. Likewise, once they're built, I doubt they ever get used.
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Re: Lockheed Martin wins second contract for hypersonic weapon

Tue Sep 04, 2018 4:58 pm

We have to keep up with the Joneses. Of course the open question is how close are the Chinese and Russians to deployment on a tactical level.

There have been talks of eliminating part of the defense TRIAD. Could a Trident size hypersonic weapon replace all of our land based silos. It would save money, keep the Ohio replacement on track and allow for even more flexibility.
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Re: Lockheed Martin wins second contract for hypersonic weapon

Tue Dec 18, 2018 8:26 pm

Some interesting developments with hypersonics and their proposed counter. The targeting difficulties of hypersoncis demonstrate why they are so attractive for future weapon systems. It will be interesting to see how the F2T2 aspects of the targeting cycle evolve to solve these issues and how many systems and capabilities are required to build the whole picture.

Perhaps instead of space based assets it would be worth investigating high altitude airships which seem an overall easier option (with some challenges such as long term power to overcome).

Counter hypersonic weapon possible by mid-2020s: DoD

The USA could have a counter hypersonic weapon developed by the mid-2020s.

However, creating a workable defense against hypersonic vehicles and missiles would require developing longer range radars and new space-based sensors to track and target an adversary’s weapons soon after they are launched, said Michael Griffin, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, at a National Defense Industrial Association event on 13 December, according to a transcript and press release from the Pentagon.

The Department of Defense believes that the stage to knock out hypersonic weapons is during their relatively long cruise phase, in which they don’t change course abruptly. Hypersonic missiles during that stage are not particularly hard to intercept, but it would require an advanced warning, says Griffin.

Unfortunately, current US radars can’t see far enough.

“They need to see thousands of kilometers out, not hundreds,” he says.

The problem is compounded by the vastness of the Western Pacific Ocean and the lack of islands suitable to host radar installations.

“It’s not littered with a lot of places to park radars, says Griffin. “And, if you found some, they’d likely become targets.”

What’s more, hypersonic weapons are difficult to track via existing space-based sensors, he adds. Hypersonic weapons targets are 10 to 20 times dimmer than what the USA normally tracks by satellites in geostationary orbit, he says. And so, the USA would likely need to combine radar with a network of space-based sensors to effectively track and target an adversary’s hypersonic weapons.

“We can’t separate hypersonics defense from the space layer,” says Griffin.

The urgency in developing a defensive shield is driven by the fact that China is outpacing the USA in development of offensive hypersonic weapons. In August, the country reportedly conducted the maiden flight of a new hypersonic test vehicle, named Starry Sky 2, which boosts its speed by wave riding on its shockwaves. The vehicle reached Mach 5.5 for more than six minutes, and a topped out at M6, according to reports.

“In the last year, China has tested more hypersonics weapons than we have in a decade,” says Griffin. “We’ve got to fix that.”

If Russia – which is also developing hypersonic weapons – were to invade Estonia, or China were to attack Taiwan, it would be difficult to defend against their strike assets, he noted. ... od-454445/
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Re: Lockheed Martin wins second contract for hypersonic weapon

Thu Dec 20, 2018 6:21 pm

estorilm wrote:
TWA772LR wrote:
Would such a weapon have a warhead or would it be solely kinetic force from impact?

I think it would still need some sort of warhead, just based on the speed of the object I doubt it would be able to contain enough super-high-density material like tungsten or depleted uranium to cause enough kinetic damage - it would be too heavy.

At hypersonic speeds a conventional warhead pretty much doesn't add to the missiles energy release upon impact. At around Mach ten 1Kg inert mass has about the same energy as the same mass in explosives.

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Re: Lockheed Martin wins second contract for hypersonic weapon

Sun Mar 17, 2019 9:55 pm

Some more info on Hypersonic programs and what the US Services are looking for from the different programs moving from demonstrator to weapon status.

Hypersonics Won’t Repeat Mistakes Of F-35

The Pentagon’s pushing hard on hypersonics. There’s $2.6 billion in the 2020 budget for R&D. The services are sharing technology and flight test data. But what the military does not want is a massive multi-service program like the F-35.

“It’s a joint interest program, not a joint program,” Army undersecretary Ryan McCarthy told reporters this morning on the sidelines of the McAleese/Credit Suisse conference here. “We don’t want a big kind of program office like you had for” — he paused — “other major defense acquisition programs.”

“We share office space,” McCarthy said. “We will learn from each other’s tests, [and] we will potentially buy components together, [but] not either slow each other down or tweak the requirements.”

“The deployment of the weapons system is fundamentally different, and we respect that,” McCarthy said: The Army needs to launch its hypersonic weapons from trucks and tracked vehicles, the Air Force from jets, the Navy from aircraft, surface ships, and submarines. While the services are eager to share the costs of developing new technologies and to buy common components where they can, he said, none of them wants to have to compromise its unique requirements — the official to-do list of how the weapon has to work — to produce a single weapon all three can use.

(Interestingly, the massive Future Vertical Lift initiative — now split into at least two separate Army programs, the FARA scout and the FLRAA transport — went through this “let’s not be like F-35 stage” almost five years ago).

Yes, the F-35 Joint Program Office did produce three different variants: the Air Force’s F-35A can only operate off runways, the Navy’s F-35C can also fly from aircraft carriers, and the Marines’ F-35B can even take off and land vertically on helipads and highways. But enough key components were shared that what one service wanted often impacted the others, adding complexity or cost for features they didn’t want..

For hypersonics, by contrast, the Defense Department is trying “about half a dozen” independent programs across the services and DARPA, said Mike White, the Pentagon’s assistant director for hypersonics. The exact number, he told reporters yesterday, depends on how strictly you define “hypersonic” — literally, it just means moving through the air Mach 5-plus — and whether you clump smaller contracts together or count them separately.

Six Missiles, A Little Defense, & Some History

White didn’t provide a list, but based on our own research, we’d tentatively identify six, though designations keep changing and some of these programs may be different names for the same thing or spin-offs of common ancestors:

Navy: Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS).
Army: Land-Based Hypersonic Missile.
Air Force: Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW) and Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) — both, incidentally, Lockheed Martin products, like the F-35.
DARPA & Air Force: Tactical Boost-Glide (TBG) and Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC).
Note these are all offensive hypersonic missiles. Defense against hypersonic missiles, which is much harder and probably requires new tracking satellites, is currently the job of the Missile Defense Agency. MDA is only getting $157 million for that purpose in 2020 — less than a sixteenth of the offensive funding — but White said defense is laying the technological foundations and is “not very far behind” offense. In third place, he said, is reusable hypersonics: not missiles, which fly one way, once, but actual hypersonic aircraft, manned or unmanned.

White’s spent four decades researching hypersonics and other missile technology, and three months ago he became the chief hypersonics coordinator for the chief fan of hypersonics, Undersecretary for Research & Engineering Mike Griffin. In that role, White said, he handles “vision,” “strategy,” and “integration” of the different programs — but he doesn’t own them. They’re owned by the services, which signed a Memorandum Of Agreement coordinating their efforts last spring.

White said he hasn’t seen any resistance from the services to overall DoD direction, only “an unprecedented among of collaboration.”

“We have multiple programs sharing a common booster, for example,” White said, but with “different hypersonic front ends.” Three of the programs, he added, derive from the Navy-led Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS), which in turn evolved from the Army’s Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW), which itself evolved from Sandia National Laboratory’s Sandia Winged Energetic Reentry Vehicle Experiment (SWERVE).

CPS had its first test flight in 2017 and will have another “in about a year,” White said. Across all the programs, “you will see a dramatic increase in the number of flight tests we conduct over the next several years,” which will require a corresponding ramp-up in the nationwide testing infrastructure.

How much? The current five-year spending figure for hypersonics across the Future Year Defense Plan (FYDP) is $10.5 billion, but that’s clearly a placeholder. ($10.5 billion divided by five years gives an average of only $2.1 billion, which makes no sense when this year, the first year, is already $2.6 billion and that figure is only going to go up). Plus Congress may plus-up funding well above the request, as it did last year, when it increased hypersonics to a total of $2.4 billion.

A big source of uncertainty: We’re still experimenting. “Right now…. there are not acquisition programs of record,” White cautioned. “Those programs are flight demonstration prototype programs and weapons systems prototype programs.” The decision to start a formal acquisition program of record, he said, is still “a number of years” away.

The ultimate goal? “A family of systems,” White said, “[using] air, sea, and land launch, that can handle both medium ranges and more intermediate ranges — think coastal attack and deep inland attack.”

(White didn’t explain his terms, but this is presumably from the perspective of US forces firing from the sea or island bases at an opponent on the mainland of Eurasia, like Russia or China: Shorter-range weapons can only hit the coast, longer-ranger ones can go “deep inland.” The reference to “intermediate” ranges suggests somewhere between 500 and 5,500 km, the ranges covered by the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty from which the administration is now withdrawing).

White wouldn’t get more specific about ranges, understandably, except to say “it’s not intercontinental.” That’s significant, because previous efforts on what was called Prompt Global Strike were scuppered by fears that a sufficiently fast and long-range conventional missile would be mistaken for a nuclear ICBM, potentially triggering a nuclear war. (Even the original Navy/Air Force concept to break through China’s layered defense, AirSea Battle, faced deep concerns about how strikes on the Chinese mainland might escalate).

But that previous program envisioned weapons with ICBM-like ranges and flight paths, White said, firing from ICBM launch sites. In fact, one candidate was simply a Navy Trident ballistic missile with the nuclear warhead replaced by a conventional one.

Today’s hypersonics programs, however, will have shorter ranges and different flight paths. They’ll also be unique systems that were developed solely to carry conventional warheads, without a nuclear variant. Said White: “Any adversary who’s got the capability to detect [them] will quickly understand the difference.” ... s-of-f-35/

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