The U.S. Air Force has awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control to begin designing a second hypersonic weapon prototype, the Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW).
This not-to-exceed $480 million undefinitized contract was awarded by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center located at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida and will provide the critical design review, test and production readiness support for the ARRW (pronounced “Arrow”). The contract work will be performed in Orlando, Florida, and is expected to be completed by Nov. 30, 2021.
“We are going to go fast and leverage the best technology available to get hypersonic capability to the warfighter as soon as possible,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather A. Wilson.
The Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon effort is one of two hypersonic weapon prototyping efforts being pursued by the Air Force to accelerate hypersonic research and development, the other being the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW) – for which a $928 million contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin in April.
The Air Force is using rapid prototyping authorized by Section 804 of the FY16 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to explore the art-of-the-possible and to advance these technologies to a capability in 2021. Leaders from the Department of Defense (DoD), Missile Defense Agency (MDA), Air Force, Navy and Army signed a memorandum of agreement June 28 to work cooperatively on hypersonic boost glide technology development.
“The Joint Team requires the right mix of agile capabilities to compete, deter and win across the spectrum of competition and conflict,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein. “We must push the boundaries of technology and own the high ground in this era of great power competition and beyond.”
This undefinitized contract action allows the government to meet urgent needs by authorizing the contractor to begin work before reaching a final settlement on contract terms and conditions, to include a final negotiated price. The contract is expected to be definitized within 180 days of award.
The ARRW and HCSW efforts are developing unique capabilities for the warfighter and each has different technical approaches. The ARRW effort is “pushing the art-of-the-possible” by leveraging the technical base established by the Air Force/DARPA partnership. The HCSW effort is using mature technologies that have not been integrated for an air-launched delivery system. The Armament Directorate of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) is providing program management of these prototyping efforts.