Raytheon Technologies has been awarded a $985 million hypersonic missile contract

The United States Air Force (USAF) recently announced a contract with Raytheon Technologies. This contract, worth more than $985 million, will focus on the development and demonstration of ramjet-powered hypersonic cruise missiles.

Most importantly, the new contract may bring the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile, or HACM, program out of the prototyping phase and into baseline operation as a combat weapon. In addition, the contract will reduce the number of companies competing to produce such weapons from three to one. Last June (2021), the US Air Force awarded three separate 15-month SCIFiRE contracts to Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon for work on preliminary hypersonic cruise missile designs.

The company that won the contract and continued this initial concept round was Raytheon Technologies, which would go on to provide the US Air Force with the design for its HACM program. This will allow the military department to prepare it for integration into fighter aircraft. It is hoped that the weapon will soon be available for combat.

The US military also explained that its plan for the new HACM would be an air-based standoff weapon capable of hitting critical targets in harsh combat environments. As an air-launched ballistic missile, the weapon could be launched remotely, from the far edge of the enemy’s air defense operations. Ultimately, the agency hopes to be able to use functional HACM weapons in combat situations by fiscal year 2027.

Indeed, as US Air Force Chief of Staff General CY Brown notes, “HACM is a powerful example of developing and integrating warfighting capabilities with our partners from the ground up. HACM will provide our commanders with the tactical flexibility to use fighters to hold high-value, time-sensitive targets under threat while supporting bombers for other strategic objectives.”

Hypersonic weapons, including HACMs, can fly through the air at several times the speed of sound, hence the name. However, what makes them more appealing is that they can maneuver in flight, meaning they are harder for enemies to track and defend than other types of ballistics. Raytheon Technologies has been awarded a $985 million hypersonic missile contract

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