Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies business, in partnership with Northrop Grumman, successfully completed the first flight test of a hypersonic weapon.
In the test, conducted by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), an aircraft dropped what is known as a Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept, or HAWC.
In a written statement from Raytheon, the test was defined as “historic.”
The missile is built by Raytheon Technologies and powered by Northrop Grumman’s scramjet tech.
The companies are on track to deliver a prototype system to the U.S. Department of Defense.
Scramjet engines use high vehicle speed to forcibly compress incoming air before combustion to enable sustained flight at hypersonic speeds – Mach 5 or greater – which is five times the speed of sound.
By traveling at these speeds, hypersonic weapons like HAWC are able to reach their targets more quickly than traditional missiles, allowing them to potentially evade defense systems.
Raytheon Technologies and Northrop Grumman signed a teaming agreement last year to develop, produce and integrate Northrop Grumman's scramjet engines onto Raytheon's air-breathing hypersonic weapons.
The agreement enables both companies to combine their capabilities to accelerate development and demonstrate readiness to produce the next generation of tactical missile systems.
Raytheon Technologies has been working on the HAWC program since 2013.
“This flight test brings the U.S. military closer than ever before to deploying an offensive air-breathing hypersonic capability – a revolutionary leap forward for our warfighters,” said Wes Kremer, president of Raytheon Missiles & Defense.
“This is a history-making moment, and this success paves the way for an affordable, long-range hypersonic system in the near term to strengthen national security,” said Colin Whelan, vice president of Advanced Technology at Raytheon Missiles & Defense. “This test proves we can deliver the first operational hypersonic scramjet, providing a significant increase in warfighting capabilities.”
"We have reached a milestone in delivering a game-changing capability to the warfighter," said Dan Olson, vice president and general manager of Weapon Systems Division for Northrop Grumman.
"Decades of learning advanced manufacturing techniques and industry partnerships helped us define what is now possible,” Olson added.