Home Air USAF awards contracts to Boeing, Lockheed for SCIFIRE hypersonic weapon program

USAF awards contracts to Boeing, Lockheed for SCIFIRE hypersonic weapon program

SCIFIRE contracts for Boeing and Lockheed Martin
Illustration: US Air Force file photo of an experimental hypersonic scramjet vehicle launched as part of the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation Program (HIFiRE)

The US Air Force has awarded Boeing and Lockheed Martin competing contracts for work on the US and Australian SCIFIRE hypersonic cruise missile program.

Boeing received $39.6 million and Lockheed $27.2 million for the phase I preliminary design review of the Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE) Project.

Both contracts are for work on maturing 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. Work under the contracts is expected to be completed by August 2022.

Update: In a separate contract announcement on September 3, the Pentagon said it awarded Raytheon Missiles & Defense a $27.9 million contract for work on the program.

SCIFiRE is a joint undertaking by Australia and the United States to develop and test hypersonic cruise missile prototypes under a bilateral agreement announced in November 2020.

The program is based on more than 15 years of collaboration between the two countries on science and technology research into hypersonic scramjets, rocket motors, sensors, and advanced manufacturing materials. More specifically, SCIFIRE builds upon the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HIFiRE) program.

SCIFiRE is the second effort announced under the Allied Prototyping Initiative, which was launched in 2019 by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering through its Advanced Capabilities directorate. API leverages new and existing frameworks for international cooperation in research and development, so that the US and its closest allies can co-develop high impact operational prototypes and capitalize on the use of the industrial base within both countries.

According to the Australian Air Force, the new weapon will be a Mach 5-class precision strike missile that is propulsion-launched and powered by an air-breathing scramjet engine. It will be capable of being carried by tactical fighter aircraft such as the F/A-18F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler and F-35A Lightning II, as well as the P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft.