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Raytheon, Northrop Partner To Co-develop Scramjet Missile

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Raytheon Missile Systems and Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems announced a partnership at the Paris Air Show on June 18 to co-develop a scramjet-powered hypersonic missile. 

Though presented as a newly-signed partnership, the announcement in reality lifts the veil on a secret, multi-year collaboration between the two companies to develop an advanced new high-speed weapon system as one of two competitors for the High-speed Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

The partnership is so advanced that the Raytheon/Northrop HAWC design is ready to enter flight testing “very soon,” said Tom Bussing, vice president of Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems. 

“This weapon is fundamentally game-changing. There’s nothing like it,” Bussing said.  

Lockheed Martin also is developing a scramjet-powered missile for the HAWC program. 

The Raytheon/Northrop effort draws on nearly two decades of hypersonic propulsion and missile development work between the two companies. Northrop, which acquired Orbital ATK last year, developed the scramjet for the successful NASA X-43 scramjet. 

But the scramjet designed for HAWC is more advanced than the X-43 by several generations, said John Wilcox, vice president of Advanced Weapons and Technology for Northrop. 

The new scramjet propulsion system for the Raytheon/Northrop HAWC is designed exclusively with an additive manufacturing process, he said. That approach helped significantly reduce the weight of the scramjet, which amounts to about half the mass of the engine aboard the Boeing X-51 a decade ago, Wilcox said. 

Raytheon is contributing to the design of the HAWC missile, which was revealed by Aviation Week ShowNews on Monday. It features a contoured nose and standard body, although the released image masks the shape of the classified inlet design. 

The Raytheon/Northrop team are developing the HAWC initially for an air-launched application, but there are plans to develop versions that can be launched from ground vehicles and ships. 

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