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Tucson Raytheon unit wins missile deal worth nearly $1B

Artist's rendering of an air-breathing hypersonic missile prototype developed by Raytheon with Northrop Grumman and selected for the Air Force's Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile program.

Tucson-based Raytheon Missiles & Defense has won a contract worth up to nearly a billion dollars to develop an air-launched, hypersonic cruise missile for the U.S. Air Force, beating out two competitors.

The contract for the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile, or HACM, has a potential value of up to $985 million, and calls for the work to be performed in Tucson through March 2027, according to a Pentagon contract notice.

Fiscal year 2022 research and development funds of $100 million have been initially obligated for the HACM effort, which includes weapon system design, development and initial delivery through the performance of model-based critical design review, qualification, integration, manufacturing and testing, the Air Force said.

Raytheon rivals Lockheed Martin and Boeing had also bid for the competitive program, which is among several hypersonic missile programs fast-tracked in the face of advanced development of hypersonics by Russia and China.

HACM is an air-launched, “scramjet”-powered hypersonic weapon designed to attack high-value targets in contested environments from standoff distances. Scramjet engines achieve hypersonic speeds — Mach 5 or higher — by burning fuel rapidly in a supersonic airstream within the engine.

“HACM is a powerful example of developing and integrating combat capabilities alongside our partners from the beginning,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown Jr. said in announcing the contract. “HACM will provide our commanders with tactical flexibility to employ fighters to hold high-value, time-sensitive targets at risk while maintaining bombers for other strategic targets.”

Wes Kremer, president of Raytheon Missiles & Defense said the company continues to be at the forefront of hypersonic weapon and air-breathing technology development.

“With advanced threats emerging around the globe, the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile will provide our warfighters a much-needed capability,” he said.

The HACM program stems from a bilateral project with Australia begun in 2020, the Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment or SCIFiRE, to develop air-breathing hypersonic cruise missile prototypes.

The Air Force awarded three 15-month SCIFiRE contracts in June 2021 to Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed Martin to complete preliminary designs of a hypersonic cruise missile.

Raytheon developed its prototype for the HACM program, the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept, using scramjet components made by Northrop Grumman.

The HACM program will now operationalize the Raytheon SCIFiRE prototype design for fighter aircraft integration and deliver two operational systems, the Air Force said.

“We have over a decade of cooperation with our Australian allies in the advancement of hypersonic technologies, and now we will bring that shared knowledge to bear to address urgent national defense requirements,” said Andrew Hunter, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics.

Through the SCIFiRE agreement, the U.S. and Australia will continue collaborating on HACM design and development, including using Australian test infrastructure for the initial all-up-round flight tests, the Air Force said.

Raytheon, the Tucson region’s biggest employer with more than 13,000 local workers, is involved in other hypersonic missile programs, including a “boost-glide” vehicle under development with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Raytheon with partner Northrop Grumman also is developing a counter-hypersonic missile, called the Glide Phase Interceptor, for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.

This week, Raytheon announced that its Glide Phase Interceptor has passed a key system requirements review, moving the system to a preliminary design phase.

Contact senior reporter David Wichner at dwichner@tucson.com or 520-573-4181. On Twitter: @dwichner. On Facebook: Facebook.com/DailyStarBiz


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