Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $928 million ceiling indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract to develop the hypersonic conventional strike weapon for the U.S. Air Force.
This contract provides for the design, development, engineering, systems integration, test, logistics planning, and aircraft integration support of all the elements of a hypersonic, conventional, air-launched, stand-off weapon.
According to the statement for U.S. DoD, this award is the result of a competitive acquisition and three offers were received. The contracting activity is the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) located at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Fiscal 2018 research, development, test and evaluation funds will be obligated at the time of award on the first task order.
The statement added that the contract work will be performed in Huntsville, Alabama.
The development came as both China and Russia have pulled ahead of the U.S. in developing hypersonic technologies. Hypersonic vehicles travel at least five times the speed of sound, putting forward bases and carrier battle groups at risk, since they wouldn’t be able to detect an incoming hypersonic missile until it was about to make impact.
This is the second U.S. effort to develop a hypersonic strike weapon. The other is a project jointly managed by the Air Force and DARPA called the Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) program.
The TBG program aims to develop and demonstrate technologies to enable future air-launched, tactical-range hypersonic boost glide systems. In a boost glide system, a rocket accelerates its payload to high speeds. The payload then separates from the rocket and glides unpowered to its destination.
TBG is a two-phase effort that plans to include ground and flight testing to mature critical technologies, and aims to demonstrate the system performance achievable through the integration of those technologies. The program is using a disciplined systems engineering approach to define demonstration system objectives and identify enabling technologies needed for future systems. The TBG program is exploiting the technical knowledge and lessons derived from development and flight testing of previous boost glide systems, including the Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2).