US defense giant Boeing announced it has been awarded a $30 million contract for work on the development and demonstration of a ramjet missile for carrier air wing strike fighters.
The company said it would collaborate with the navy on the development of the Supersonic Propulsion Enabled Advanced Ramjet (SPEAR) flight demonstrator with the Navy’s Air Warfare Center Weapons Division.
The contract award comes after the Pentagon requested information from the defense industry to help the navy determine technical requirements of future carrier-based land and sea strike weapons systems.
“The SPEAR flight demonstrator will provide the F/A-18 Super Hornet and carrier strike group with significant improvements in range and survivability against advanced threat defensive systems,” said Steve Mercer, Boeing’s SPEAR program manager.
Boeing and the Navy Air Warfare Center Weapons Division plan to fly the SPEAR demonstrator in late 2022.
The company said its previous work on supersonic and hypersonic technologies included the X-51 Waverider test vehicle in 2010 and the Variable Flow Ducted Rocket propulsion system under the Triple Target Terminator program in 2014.
This will not be the first ramjet project the navy is embarking on after the service previously entered into an agreement with Norway on the exploration of advanced solid fuel ramjet technologies under the Tactical High-speed Offensive Ramjet for Extended Range (THOR-ER) project. The prototyping initiative will aim to cooperatively develop and integrate advancements in solid fuel ramjet technologies into full-size prototypes.