Current US hypersonic weapons projects. (General)

Flyaway

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Scientific American - The Physics and Hype of Hypersonic Weapons
"These novel missiles cannot live up to the grand promises made on their behalf, aerodynamics shows"
 

bring_it_on

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This test marked the successful testing of both stages of the newly developed missile booster, as well as a thrust vector control system on the SRM.

 

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Next phase SciFIRE awards happened today. Both Boeing and Lockheed Martin selected to further their offerings through a PDR.

Boeing Co., St. Louis, Missouri, was awarded a $39,660,399 cost-plus-fixed-fee modification (P00002) to previously awarded contract FA8682-21-C-0008 for Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE) Project Phase I Preliminary Design Review. The contract modification is an option exercise to mature a solid-rocket boosted, air-breathing, hypersonic conventional cruise missile, air-launched from existing fighter/bomber aircraft, through the completion of a preliminary design review. The location of performance is St. Louis, Missouri. The work is expected to be completed by Aug. 31, 2022. Fiscal 2020 and 2021 research and development funds in the amount of $1,521,862 and $8,750,000, respectively, are being obligated at the time of award. The total cumulative face value of the contract is $47,153,068. Future Hypersonics, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, is the contracting activity.


Lockheed Martin, Palmdale, California, was awarded a $27,192,571 cost-plus-fixed-fee modification (P00002) to previously awarded contract FA8682-21-C-0009 for Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE) Project Phase I Preliminary Design Review. The contract modification is an option exercise to mature a solid-rocket boosted, air-breathing, hypersonic conventional cruise missile, air-launched from existing fighter/bomber aircraft, through the completion of a preliminary design review. The location of performance is Palmdale California. The work is expected to be completed by Aug. 31, 2022. Fiscal 2020 and 2021 research and development funds in the amount of $1,521,862 and $8,750,000, respectively, are being obligated at the time of award. The total cumulative face value of the contract is $33,499,083. Future Hypersonics, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, is the contracting activity.

 
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I assume there's a reason why SciFIRE and HACM are separate programs? It seems like they are shooting for the same thing. Redundancy? It does seem like the USAF and DARPA will throw money at anyone making a scramjet these days. Not really complaining, I think a 3D printed scram is the leap ahead technology the US needs to keep up with the competition at this point.
 

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I assume there's a reason why SciFIRE and HACM are separate programs? It seems like they are shooting for the same thing. Redundancy? It does seem like the USAF and DARPA will throw money at anyone making a scramjet these days. Not really complaining, I think a 3D printed scram is the leap ahead technology the US needs to keep up with the competition at this point.

SCiFiRE is essentially developing a more optimized ("form factor optimized") scramjet powered cruise missile prototype that can fit across a bunch of tactical platforms (including Navy F/A-18E/Fs also operated by the RAAF). It is rolling out of the AF advanced prototyping program which is also where HACM is coming out off. From the looks of it, it is essentially maturing a smaller, more optimized booster for the same cruise vehicle that HAWC matured and that HACM will end up utilizing. So could be that the AF HACM ends up using the same booster since it starts just a few months prior to the SCiFiRE PDR gets completed. The definitely seem to be highly connected.
 

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I wonder if the actual SCRAM vehicle will be the same then? I'm guessing that the tactical program would sacrifice size/range for weight. Though since both of the HAWC prototypes are 3D printed combusters, you could probably scale the entire object down pretty easily.

EDIT: Also a little surprised the USN isn't involved in SciFIRE if the RAAF is considering F-18 as the carrier.
 

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SCiFiRE actually has both USAF and USN involved in some capacity in its early stages (prototype integration on fighters). But the program is being run by the Office of Secretary of Defense (and Australia) and will eventually transition to the USAF to complete the demonstrations and prototyping effort. This makes sense since they have been involved in scramjet R&D and now prototyping since 2015. AF's HACM may use some of what is developed by SCiFIRE. Similarly, Navy's scramjet efforts might grab some of the things as well.
 

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Josh_TN

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Wow, the HAWC spending is pretty trivial. For TBG, is says 'continue tests'. Is there open source info on TBG testing to date? I know the ARRW glider is supposed to be adapted from TBG but I've never seen an actual test of that glider documented.
 

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Wow, the HAWC spending is pretty trivial. For TBG, is says 'continue tests'. Is there open source info on TBG testing to date? I know the ARRW glider is supposed to be adapted from TBG but I've never seen an actual test of that glider documented.
Yeah, that HAWC spending will pay for the powerrpoints and challenge coins. Not much else.
 

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Wow, the HAWC spending is pretty trivial. For TBG, is says 'continue tests'. Is there open source info on TBG testing to date? I know the ARRW glider is supposed to be adapted from TBG but I've never seen an actual test of that glider documented.

HAWC levels are small because the program expects to finish up its remaining testing in the early-mid part of FY-22 and then wind up. Under the revised timeline, flight testing (as of the most latest budget docs) was set to begin in FY-21 (which it did) and spill over into FY-22. I think the program was to initially end in FY-21 but got pushed out into part of FY-22 because of delays in testing.

The AF expects to launch HACM around the Q2-Q3 timeframe in FY-22. That could be when it expects HAWC to finish its work so that there could be a smooth transition. Flight testing in support of TBG and HAWC isn't publicly discussed though there have obviously been leaks (there was an AvWeek article that wrongly reported some HAWC testing facts that the AF Mag cleared up later). All we know that at least nine flight tests were included in the HAWC program (MDA data shared last year points to a few of those where it will participate as a tracking exercise) though its hard to guess whether those also include booster tests (probably) or captive carry tests (probably not)..

To DARPA's $10 million request for finishing up the last bit of work on the HAWC, one must add the FY-22 request for the AF's HACM which is essentially an extension/transition of HAWC. USAF requested $200 Million for HACM in FY22 to conduct a 12 month Critical Design Review for HACM.

For TBG, is says 'continue tests'. Is there open source info on TBG testing to date? I know the ARRW glider is supposed to be adapted from TBG but I've never seen an actual test of that glider documented.

DARPA in its FY-22 budget indicated that it plans to complete two TBG flight tests in the current FY (2021) and an additional test in FY-22. It will also do captive testing on a Navy variant of TBG and also make progress on a Navy specific data-link.
 

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bring_it_on

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Not too promising at the moment, to be honest.

I think we will have clearer picture by next spring/early summer but yes, if the goal is to field ARRW by end of Fiscal Year 22, and something like HACM by end of FY 2024/25 then they are on a super tight schedule and need everything to line up.
 

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Possibly it could be used as the basis for at least an interim system.
 
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Flyaway

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Make a nice hypersonic strike weapon

I see another example of what’s become very common these days of a senior military man quickly finding work in the private sector. I was reading this is far more common than back even in the eighties and nineties.
 

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Next phase SciFIRE awards happened today. Both Boeing and Lockheed Martin selected to further their offerings through a PDR.

Yesterday, Raytheon received a similar contract making it three design teams that will take their proposal through a PDR concluding in the third quarter of CY 2022.

Raytheon Missiles & Defense, Tucson, Arizona, was awarded a $27,991,408 cost-plus-fixed-fee modification (P00002) to previously awarded contract FA8682-21-C-0010 for the Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE) Project Phase I preliminary design review (PDR). The modification is an option exercise to mature a solid rocket-boosted, air-breathing, hypersonic conventional cruise missile, air-launched from existing fighter/bomber aircraft, through the completion of a (PDR). The location of performance is Tucson, Arizona, and work is expected to be completed by Sept. 2, 2022. This modification does not involve Foreign Military Sales. Fiscal 2020 and 2021 research and development funds in the amount of $1,521,861 and $8,750,000, respectively, are being obligated at the time of award. The total cumulative face value of the contract is $33,698,870. Future Hypersonics, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, is the contracting activity.
 

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Make a nice hypersonic strike weapon

I see another example of what’s become very common these days of a senior military man quickly finding work in the private sector. I was reading this is far more common than back even in the eighties and nineties.
These GOs live to run to the traditional majors to secure "money for nothing and chicks for free"...completely corrupt... of course, half the reason for corporate capture and the collapse of innovation.

Now the Majors sponsor commentary to squash OTAs which allow small biz to own their IP. Innovators, of course need to own their IP.

If there were a competent USG, the USG would call in most USG ''not reduced to practice' by private funding' large systems and start competing almost all subcomponents and allowing small or non-traditional Lead System Integrators. This should be accomplished w/ an eye toward breaking up the Defense LSIs. Quality, timeliness and cost effectiveness would result. BTW the overall stock value of this diversification would be higher (break up of Standard oil model) and overall risk to any particular DOD sector stock reduced.


At least Virgin is a non-traditional vendor might actually deliver on time and on budget.
 

jsport

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as stated before and agreed with by some more cogent Congressmen, there are too many hypersonic missile programs. Finally there is a manned hypersonic program which is far more efficient means to deliver a short range hypersonic. Apparently the SWAP and final form factors of scram jets are still not perfected. A rush to failure and or redundancy. The more speed, the more drag therefore long range hypersonics have to be too large for ships internal volume constraints, for instance. Someone needs to say, hold on, lets stop the redundancy, lets get the engine right. (maybe mach 5 is too slow, scrams might be more efficient at above mach 5, (if ur burning atmospheric 02 drag may not be an issue) for instance. Lets make sure we full UK and Aussy buy in on tech and purchase economies of scale etc before all these programs cost more than they are worth.
 

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Ultra-efficient 3D printed catalysts could help solve the challenge of overheating in hypersonic aircraft and offer a revolutionary solution to thermal management across countless industries.

Developed by researchers at RMIT, the highly versatile catalysts are cost-effective to make and simple to scale.

The team's lab demonstrations show the 3D printed catalysts could potentially be used to power hypersonic flight while simultaneously cooling the system.

next-gen-3d-printed-ca-1.jpg


 

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Scientific American - The Physics and Hype of Hypersonic Weapons
"These novel missiles cannot live up to the grand promises made on their behalf, aerodynamics shows"

I've just red it and was ready to post it - when I browsed and found it here. One word: SCATHING !
Well worth a read.
 

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Scientific American - The Physics and Hype of Hypersonic Weapons
"These novel missiles cannot live up to the grand promises made on their behalf, aerodynamics shows"

I've just red it and was ready to post it - when I browsed and found it here. One word: SCATHING !
Well worth a read.

Well, I read it on your recommendation and the article does make a good, well argued case.

What happens at speeds above M5 is somewhat counterintuitive and also, from what I've understood reading about hypersonics here and elsewhere, the true expert/professional community around this subject isn't very numerous so the dynamics between military/policy and technology aren't all that straightforward. It's a real risk that we're accumulating distrust and other adverse proliferation on a mirage. Jeffrey "Arms Control Wonk" Lewis has for a long time offered similar critiques on the subject, not to mention that disambiguating intent (e.g. conventional vs. nuclear) in using hypersonic weapons doesn't seem quite as straightforward as its proponents would have us believe.

Nonetheless, I've found the recent Australian work particularly interesting, especially when it comes to civilian applications.
 

Flyaway

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Scientific American - The Physics and Hype of Hypersonic Weapons
"These novel missiles cannot live up to the grand promises made on their behalf, aerodynamics shows"

I've just red it and was ready to post it - when I browsed and found it here. One word: SCATHING !
Well worth a read.

Well, I read it on your recommendation and the article does make a good, well argued case.

What happens at speeds above M5 is somewhat counterintuitive and also, from what I've understood reading about hypersonics here and elsewhere, the true expert/professional community around this subject isn't very numerous so the dynamics between military/policy and technology aren't all that straightforward. It's a real risk that we're accumulating distrust and other adverse proliferation on a mirage. Jeffrey "Arms Control Wonk" Lewis has for a long time offered similar critiques on the subject, not to mention that disambiguating intent (e.g. conventional vs. nuclear) in using hypersonic weapons doesn't seem quite as straightforward as its proponents would have us believe.

Nonetheless, I've found the recent Australian work particularly interesting, especially when it comes to civilian applications.
I imagine that’s why for example though they both crept into the light somewhat around the same time the RQ-180 appears to be flying around in the real world whereas the SR-72 seems to remain mostly a paper project.
 

Archibald

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Since 1975 stealth has won nearly every single match against speed. S-300 and S-400 won't help "speed" case anytime soon.
I've read Ben Rich memoirs recently, and I understand better why stealth was a game changer. It is far less exciting and makes aircraft look uniformly ugly, but war aren't won being sexy and exciting...
In fact it came as the right time, when the one and only option left to try and penetrate Soviet defense was the (rather dubious) "100 feet high at mach 0.9 with radar following terrain" : B-1A, F-111, Tornado...
 

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I disagree a bit with the final conclusion, but the article itself was a fascinating read. It highlights the idea that the 'hypersonic' buzz word is really a large tent of in some cases unrelated technologies that are often grossly mischaracterized in the media. In particular it highlighted something I've aleays suspected - that 'maneuverability' will actually come at great costs to speed/range in gliders. That means deviating from your establish flight path comes at a fair cost and with a long lead time (ie, it is not reactive, only pre planned) such that interception during the mid course phase might be very practical - if you don't change trajectories, you're pretty much just a very slow LEO satellite. I suspect in the future one of the main anti-hypersonic weapons will be other hypersonics in the form of scramjets that are less expensive, air launched, and make intercept before the perceived threat envelope of the launching entity. Given a good enough tracking solution provided by satellite, that shouldn't really be a very difficult goal. If a glider has to start its maneuvering to avoid interception shortly after launch, then at the least range and terminal speed on target will be eaten up for the rest of the flight.
 

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In particular it highlighted something I've aleays suspected - that 'maneuverability' will actually come at great costs to speed/range in gliders. That means deviating from your establish flight path comes at a fair cost and with a long lead time (ie, it is not reactive, only pre planned) such that interception during the mid course phase might be very practical - if you don't change trajectories, you're pretty much just a very slow LEO satellite. I suspect in the future one of the main anti-hypersonic weapons will be other hypersonics in the form of scramjets that are less expensive, air launched, and make intercept before the perceived threat envelope of the launching entity. Given a good enough tracking solution provided by satellite, that shouldn't really be a very difficult goal. If a glider has to start its maneuvering to avoid interception shortly after launch, then at the least range and terminal speed on target will be eaten up for the rest of the flight.

Not all are created equally. From the 60s:


4-The-Boost-Glide-Re-entry-Vehicle-investigated-related-technological-problems.png
 

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Since 1975 stealth has won nearly every single match against speed. S-300 and S-400 won't help "speed" case anytime soon.
I think it depend on what sort of speed.
Mach 20 remain pretty much near impossible to intercept by 99.99% of air defense
 

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This is why discussing 'hypersonic' as a single group is so misleading. Most any ballistic missile of any appreciable range is hypersonic, even a Scud. And there are maneuvering re-entry vehicles for out of atmo BMs. I think we narrow terms down to 'boost-glide' and 'scramjet' to avoid confusion - those two are unambiguously more flat trajectory items and quite honestly the two have almost nothing in common except they go fast.
 

Josh_TN

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In particular it highlighted something I've aleays suspected - that 'maneuverability' will actually come at great costs to speed/range in gliders. That means deviating from your establish flight path comes at a fair cost and with a long lead time (ie, it is not reactive, only pre planned) such that interception during the mid course phase might be very practical - if you don't change trajectories, you're pretty much just a very slow LEO satellite. I suspect in the future one of the main anti-hypersonic weapons will be other hypersonics in the form of scramjets that are less expensive, air launched, and make intercept before the perceived threat envelope of the launching entity. Given a good enough tracking solution provided by satellite, that shouldn't really be a very difficult goal. If a glider has to start its maneuvering to avoid interception shortly after launch, then at the least range and terminal speed on target will be eaten up for the rest of the flight.

Not all are created equally. From the 60s:


View attachment 664010

Wow, I'd never heard of that test. I'm guessing the reason it wasn't pursued is that it wasn't considered especially cost effective to have a tiny object like that require an ICBM booster level of energy when simple ballistic delivery was effectively unstoppable anyway. But interesting that they even performed tests. Navigation in that day and age must have been very marginal; ICBMs use astrogation which would clearly be unavailable. I assume this just used INS?
 

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This is why discussing 'hypersonic' as a single group is so misleading. Most any ballistic missile of any appreciable range is hypersonic, even a Scud. And there are maneuvering re-entry vehicles for out of atmo BMs. I think we narrow terms down to 'boost-glide' and 'scramjet' to avoid confusion - those two are unambiguously more flat trajectory items and quite honestly the two have almost nothing in common except they go fast.
How about boost and cruise as the differentiator??
 

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This is why discussing 'hypersonic' as a single group is so misleading. Most any ballistic missile of any appreciable range is hypersonic, even a Scud. And there are maneuvering re-entry vehicles for out of atmo BMs. I think we narrow terms down to 'boost-glide' and 'scramjet' to avoid confusion - those two are unambiguously more flat trajectory items and quite honestly the two have almost nothing in common except they go fast.
How about boost and cruise as the differentiator??
I still think a scramjet and a boast/glide are vastly different things, even if both initially use a solid rocket booster. The physics of keeping something that starts at Mach 20 alive differ pretty wildly from the physics of keeping a scramjet lit but otherwise operating in an envelope not unlike that of a high performance AAM launched from a fighter in a high speed run.
 

sferrin

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In particular it highlighted something I've aleays suspected - that 'maneuverability' will actually come at great costs to speed/range in gliders. That means deviating from your establish flight path comes at a fair cost and with a long lead time (ie, it is not reactive, only pre planned) such that interception during the mid course phase might be very practical - if you don't change trajectories, you're pretty much just a very slow LEO satellite. I suspect in the future one of the main anti-hypersonic weapons will be other hypersonics in the form of scramjets that are less expensive, air launched, and make intercept before the perceived threat envelope of the launching entity. Given a good enough tracking solution provided by satellite, that shouldn't really be a very difficult goal. If a glider has to start its maneuvering to avoid interception shortly after launch, then at the least range and terminal speed on target will be eaten up for the rest of the flight.

Not all are created equally. From the 60s:


View attachment 664010

Wow, I'd never heard of that test. I'm guessing the reason it wasn't pursued is that it wasn't considered especially cost effective to have a tiny object like that require an ICBM booster level of energy when simple ballistic delivery was effectively unstoppable anyway. But interesting that they even performed tests. Navigation in that day and age must have been very marginal; ICBMs use astrogation which would clearly be unavailable. I assume this just used INS?
Almost certainly. Also note the HIGHEST it flew was 130,000 feet. Most of the flight was significantly lower than that. They didn't do it because there was nothing really that could shoot down an ICBM in those days. If this kind of stuff interests you you might be interested in this book, where the info came from:


Jeeeeezus. Five HUNDRED dollars for a paperback?


(Seems pretty steep when it can be found floating around the intertubes in PDF format.)
 

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