Air Force Cancels Hacksaw Hypersonic Weapons Program
As the global hypersonic weapon race intensifies, the US military has just decided to abandon one of its basic prototype programs.
The US Air Force announced on Monday that it would discontinue its conventional hypersonic impact weapon known as the HCSW (pronounced “Hacksaw”) in order to shift resources to its other program, the Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW). Both prototypes are manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corp.
“Due to budget priorities, the Air Force has reduced this year to a hypersonic weapons prototyping effort,” said spokeswoman Ann Stefanek. Instead, the service will focus on ARRW, which is “on track for early operational readiness in fiscal year 2022”.
Stefanek stated that ARRW – pronounced “Arrow” – offers “a unique slip body design compared to other prototyping endeavors”.
Related: Navy sets date for flight test of critical hypersonic weapons
“We will continue to work with our sister services to see how we can most effectively use each other’s skills and ensure the most prudent use of taxpayers’ money,” she said.
The Air Force informed Lockheed of its decision on Monday; The service will continue to work with Lockheed on HCSW until the critical design review of the prototype is done in the spring prior to completion, Stefanek said.
In its fiscal 2021 budget proposal presented on Monday, the Air Force said it needed $ 382 million for research, testing and development in hypersonic. Last year lawmakers donated $ 576 million to the service for the effort.
“The HCSW team pioneered the development of hypersonic technology and the integration of existing, mature technologies for use in various hypersonic efforts across the Department of Defense, including the Army, Navy and Missile Defense Agency programs,” said Stefanek. “These advances will serve to expedite the development and demonstration of various hypersonic weapon capabilities in the near future.”
The contract for the Hacksaw project was awarded in 2018. It has been valued at up to $ 928 million.
Hypersonic weapons are said to move at five times the speed of sound or more. While little was announced about either Air Force program, Aerojet Rocketdyne announced last year that it would be partnering with Lockheed on the HCSW project.
The company said it had worked to develop both solid-powered and air-breathing ramjet and scramjet capabilities for hypersonic technologies, citing its successful test of the X-51A Waverider, a hydrocarbon and scramjet-powered prototype cruise missile that was the first to reach hypersonic speeds in 2013.
Aerojet announced in September that it would partially use Waverider as a blueprint for HCSW.
Scramjet – short for supersonic combustion ramjet – technologies use an air-breathing jet engine that compresses incoming air but must maintain extremely high speeds to compress that air. To do this, they are first driven by a booster in order to reach hypersonic speeds.
Meanwhile, the Air Force conducted its first test of the AGM-183A ARRW in June and flew the weapon on a B-52 Stratofortress bomber aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base, California. ARRW, which has a tactical Boost sliding body shell, completed its preliminary design review in March 2019, Lockheed said at the time.
According to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a slip-body vehicle reaches high speeds before separating its payload and sliding towards its intended target.
Like the Air Force, the Navy also has sliding body experiments in its sights.
Last month, incumbent Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly outlined a robust schedule for the service, which includes a flight experiment scheduled later this fiscal year. The test will demonstrate the effectiveness of a weapon developed by the Navy: the Hypersonic Glide Body.
– Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @ oriana0214.
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