Tomahawk missile maker Raytheon said on Monday it had got a $63.3 million order to further develop the Tactical Boost Glide hypersonic weapons program, according to a company’s statement.
The U.S. weapons maker has announced a DARPA contract for hypersonic weapons works, that will fund Tactical Boost Glide system.
For a tactical-range boost glide weapon to achieve hypersonic speeds – velocities greater than Mach 5 – “a rocket accelerates its payload to high speeds. The payload then separates from the rocket and glides unpowered to its destination,” according to the DARPA website.
“This latest contract adds to Raytheon’s growing number of hypersonic weapons programs,” said Dr. Thomas Bussing, Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems vice president. “Raytheon is working closely with our customers to quickly field these advanced weapon systems and provide our nation’s military with the tools they need to stay ahead of the escalating threat.”
Hypersonic weapons will enable the U.S. military to engage from longer ranges with shorter response times and enhanced effectiveness compared to current weapon systems.
The U.S. military began pursuing hypersonic weapons in earnest under the Conventional Prompt Global Strike program in 2007. The program sought to achieve a non-nuclear strike anywhere around the globe within an hour. Now, a prompt global strike also appears useful as part of a package of options to counter anti-access and area denial measures.
As concern grows about China’s efforts to close off what it considers its part of the Pacific, a weapon that could fly undetected into the denied area while the launch platform stays well outside becomes more attractive to U.S. military planners.