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Current US hypersonic weapons projects. (General)

TAOG

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On January 28th, Mike White also confirmed that there will be at least four hypersonic flight tests in 2020.

“By the end of the year we will have flown at least four times with different concepts,” Mike White, the Defense Department’s assistant director for hypersonics, said in an interview.

 

Ronny

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X-51 wave rider is surprisingly light, only 3942 lbs which is 1000 lbs less than the load limit of F-35 inner station
Could the same hold true for AGM-183A? it does look fatter and shorter than X-51


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bring_it_on

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X-51 wave rider is surprisingly light, only 3942 lbs which is 1000 lbs less than the load limit of F-35 inner station
Could the same hold true for AGM-183A? it does look fatter and shorter than X-51
I'm sorry but I don't quite grasp your logic. What warhead did the X-51 carry? What sort of seeker or guidance system? How does any of that compare to the AGM-183A which is actually designed to go out and destroy a particular target set?
 

Ronny

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I'm sorry but I don't quite grasp your logic. What warhead did the X-51 carry? What sort of seeker or guidance system? How does any of that compare to the AGM-183A which is actually designed to go out and destroy a particular target set?
you are right, that was dumb of me :(
 

Josh_TN

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Aren’t there actually six tests in 2020 then? ARRW, HCSW, TBG, CPS, and two for HACW?
 

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Aren’t there actually six tests in 2020 then? ARRW, HCSW, TBG, CPS, and two for HACW?
If the FY19 tests were moved to FY20 then we could be looking at 5 tests in FY20. The 2 DARPA/USAF tests (TBG and HAWC) that never happened in FY19/early FY20 and the 3 which were planned for FY20 (ARRW, HCSW, and IRCPS). Not sure whether the second alternative vendor HAWC flight test was ever planned in the DARPA budget but if that was the case then there is a possibility of the sixth test later this year though it looks unlikely that they'll fund and execute that many.

We would have to wait to see exactly what the budget and range impact was of the delay to the DARPA testing and also if indeed they'll go ahead with the original plan without trying to finish their programs up using some other means and leaving it for the transitioning services to pick up flight testing later down the road. In sum, 3 will probably occur for sure but there could be as many as 5.
 

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Why don't they use the glide body of the AGM 183a for opfires instead of TBG?
 
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Josh_TN

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I thought TBG was the AGM-183 glide body and that HCSW was the lower risk SWERVE/USN glide body? I don’t know what OPFires is to use or how it differs from LRHW, thought it has been mentioned that OP will have a throttled booster (however that works). Propulsion tech seems to be OPFires main goal.
 

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I thought TBG was the AGM-183 glide body and that HCSW was the lower risk SWERVE/USN glide body? I don’t know what OPFires is to use or how it differs from LRHW, thought it has been mentioned that OP will have a throttled booster (however that works). Propulsion tech seems to be OPFires main goal.
AGM-183A will use TBG glide body. OpsFires will likewise use the glider technology being pioneered by DARPA's TBG program. It could very much be that the TBG glider is the Common glider 2.0 to be used by all three services much like the biconic glider used by the initial conventional triad. OpsFires is aimed very specifically at the A2AD threat and will be a shorter ranged system compared to the LRHW.
 
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Josh_TN

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That clears the lineage up, thanks. I agree with the common glider 2.0. So OPFires will be between PrSM and LRHW in range but likely have superior speed and maneuvering for anti access capabilities.
 

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It remains to be seen how the LRHW is fielded. No plan beyond the first experimental-combat capable battery have been announced and I'm not sure that a formal acquisition program is currently funded. They've identified areas that LRHW 2.0 can make the system better so what happens after the first battery is fielded isn't very clear though the LRPF team is writing requirements for what LRHW 2.0 looks like and that will then go through the Army for approval of fielding units beyond the first battery. Of course Congress could step in and ask them to buy more dual-purpose batteries but the Army plans to have a formal program of record for the bigger purchase with improvements and changes to the baseline LRHW.

OpFires definitely seems to be a more suitable weapon that can support both Air and naval forces using the multi-domain C2 network that is being built. PrSM is obviously a formal program of record which will be in production for quite a while given its an ATACMS replacement and the fact that it is expected to be quite affordable at around $1 Million a round.
 
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Lc89

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I don't understand. First they say the test will be towards spring. Then at the end of the year. In short, when will it happen?
 

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HCSW is dead.
Because of budget pressures, the Air Force was forced to choose between funding HCSW and ARRW in FY21, and opted to keep ARRW due to it being a more “unique glide body design" compared with HCSW, which was similar to hypersonic weapons under development by other services, Stefanek said. ARRW is on track for a early operational capability in FY22.
 

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Glad to see that the program was meeting milestones and was on schedule. ARRW was likely going to be a long term procurement program anyway so at least it is still around. I agree, if they were in a pinch it is better to seize work on the system that the other services are investing to put into service anyway. The budget is, on the whole, positive for hypersonic weapons with the Navy doubling the IR-CPS funding from FY20, and the Army funding its system. Even the SM-6 1B and THAAD-ER are funded.
 
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Josh_TN

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AGM-183 was already a program of record. My impression was that HCSW was pursued at the same time as a fallback - it relied on basically proven tech (SWERVE glider) where as ARRW would have much higher technical risk. Completing the current testing probably finishes off existing contracts while keeping the program spun up if ARRW encounters testing problems this year; however if the new TBG glider works successfully the program becomes redundant. It was a lower speed, lower tech approach that didn’t seem to bring anything else to the table (air breathing, fighter carriage, etc). Both projects have similar timelines so it doesn’t seem it would have even entered service first, barring an AGM-183 development delay.
 

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however if the new TBG glider works successfully the program becomes redundant
And the timing of this cancellation is fascinating given that we haven't yet publicly heard of a TBG test and the fact that this budget decision was probably made in late fall..Perhaps TBG is ahead of where it was supposed to be..
 

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HCSW is continuing through the spring. I am hoping that either there has been an unannounced TBG test or else there is one by the time HCSW completes its CDR such that a new contract could be made if the new glider has teething problems.

I suspect what really did in HCSW (besides simple budget constraints) is how successful the HACW demonstrators appear to be progressing. Two different contractors have an all 3D printed engine. If either is successful in demo that would be pretty game changing; apparently that manufacture allows for much lighter weight and size in addition to likely scaling better. At which point the slower of the air launched boost/glide options seems less useful.
 

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HAWC is quite far from being a weapons system. That is a late 2020's solution at best. Budgets are being stretched and I don't see them piling on additional hypersonic programs until at least a few are fielded which will take them through FY23-24 time-frame.
 

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Couldn't they simply mount the Hacksaw's glide body on the AGM 183A? It could be an easy way to "save" the program.
 

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Couldn't they simply mount the Hacksaw's glide body on the AGM 183A? It could be an easy way to "save" the program.
I think Hacksaw was supposed to be smaller so the speed is likely slower
 

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I believe the USAF was going to use the same biconical glide body as the CPS and LRHW, which is supposed to be ~34". If so it would have been a fairly wide weapon, however heavy it was. In any case I suspect swapping one glide body for another is not a remotely simple exercise.
 

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If they feel ARRW is going to be mature fast enough, and that the budget cannot sustain both, killing Hacksaw makes some sense. But this still seems like the result of a Ready, Fire, Aim problem with DoD hypersonic programs of late. They're not doing a great job convincing anyone that they're working within a well fleshed-out strategic framework, and now they don't seem to have a great budgetary strategy either.
 

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If they feel ARRW is going to be mature fast enough, and that the budget cannot sustain both, killing Hacksaw makes some sense. But this still seems like the result of a Ready, Fire, Aim problem with DoD hypersonic programs of late. They're not doing a great job convincing anyone that they're working within a well fleshed-out strategic framework, and now they don't seem to have a great budgetary strategy either.
I feel like they do. The strategy was quite clear..a lower risk path to a conventional triad that leverages a common glide body. That followed up with more ambitious programs. It was and is still running good but for the fact that the 2 year budget deal negotiated made the USAF propose some tough decisions on some programs (Congress can always add those back if it wishes). They seem to have a great budgetary strategy in terms of getting what it takes to meet the broader target of fielding a conventional hypersonic triad in the 2022-2024 time-frame. Nearly all the hypersonic programs minus the Hacksaw got an increase in funding in the proposal. Navy's CPS got a 50% increase in funding. Army got more as well. Where they need to put a lot more work is working some procurement numbers beyond fielding the initial systems. Army has been clear that beyond the first LRHW battery they need an LRHW 2.0 with some yet to be finalized changes that need to be approved by multiple layers of Army leadership. The Navy probably also needs a strategy of getting these weapons onto surface ships. I think the USAF has the best shot of actually fielding a hypersonic weapon in large numbers with the ARRW. And it will likely be the most tactically useful of the bunch. This is the last budget capped by the BCA. We are heading into uncharted waters starting FY22.
 
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Lc89

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If they feel ARRW is going to be mature fast enough, and that the budget cannot sustain both, killing Hacksaw makes some sense. But this still seems like the result of a Ready, Fire, Aim problem with DoD hypersonic programs of late. They're not doing a great job convincing anyone that they're working within a well fleshed-out strategic framework, and now they don't seem to have a great budgetary strategy either.
I feel like they do. The strategy was quite clear..a lower risk path to a conventional triad that leverages a common glide body. That followed up with more ambitious programs. It was and is still running good but for the fact that the 2 year budget deal negotiated made the USAF propose some tough decisions on some programs (Congress can always add those back if it wishes). They seem to have a great budgetary strategy in terms of getting what it takes to meet the broader target of fielding a conventional hypersonic triad in the 2022-2024 time-frame. Nearly all the hypersonic programs minus the Hacksaw got an increase in funding in the proposal. Navy's CPS got a 50% increase in funding. Army got more as well. Where they need to put a lot more work is working some procurement numbers beyond fielding the initial systems. Army has been clear that beyond the first LRHW battery they need an LRHW 2.0 with some yet to be finalized changes that need to be approved by multiple layers of Army leadership. The Navy probably also needs a strategy of getting these weapons onto surface ships. I think the USAF has the best shot of actually fielding a hypersonic weapon in large numbers with the ARRW. And it will likely be the most tactically useful of the bunch. This is the last budget capped by the BCA. We are heading into uncharted waters starting FY22.
What would an LRHW 2.0 be different from the first version?
 

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To be decided. Although missile wise I wonder if this isn’t more dependent on the USN: they are providing the all up round for that first test battery. Whatever the USN does, the army will have to take or else fund R&D and a separate production line from their own budget. I suspect they will take what the Navy offers at this point.
 

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I believe the plan is to start deliveries of the equipment and hardware to the first Army unit around mid-end of next year and the deliver the first missiles over the following two years.
 
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panzerfeist1

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"The service’s other hypersonic weapon effort is the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW), an air-breathing, ram-jet-powered cruise missile that it expects to have an initial operational capability by 2020. The HCSW development contract was awarded to Lockheed Missiles and Space in 2018 for $928 million. "

Not trying to make a provoking statement here, but does this mean that the only air-breathing missile project left is the HSWab correct?
 

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There is no air-breathing hypersonic program of record. The USAF has the AGM-183A which is the TBG glide body on an AF booster. Air-Force is a joint partner with DARPA on the HAWC program. The program transitions to them once it has completed its objectives or otherwise concluded. There is no publicly known program, yet, that has that as eventually leading to a scramjet powered weapons system. That will probably follow once the AGM-183A is fielded but we don't have anything established yet.
 

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Well it seemed more like the general was just confirming that physically it is possible, while going on to say there was no desire to nuclearize hypersonics now. I read it more as confirming other countries are going this route and that the US may in the future need to consider such. I think it is best if the US holds off nuclear development so as to make US hypersonics unambiguously conventional. It’s hard to envision a scenario where the either Russia or China have such overmatch that current nuclear deterrent is no longer sufficient.
 

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"The service’s other hypersonic weapon effort is the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW), an air-breathing, ram-jet-powered cruise missile that it expects to have an initial operational capability by 2020. The HCSW development contract was awarded to Lockheed Missiles and Space in 2018 for $928 million. "

Not trying to make a provoking statement here, but does this mean that the only air-breathing missile project left is the HSWab correct?
It seems that article is mixing up programs. HCSW was always a boost glide system that employed off the shelf technology. HACW has always been the only air breathing project, and it is a DARPA/USAF demonstrator contract. That said, it has two sets of contractors and I suspect both are trying to make a product that would quickly transition to a program of record. I could easily see HACW being type classified and transitioning into a weapon system similar to the DARPA LRASM project.
 
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