The US Army has taken delivery of first prototype hypersonic hardware at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., from Lockheed Martin.
An official handover of ground equipment, including the battery operations center and four transporter erector launchers, took place on October 7, after first components arrived at the base in September.
The hardware will be part of the service’s Long Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) system, which is being developed as part of a rapid, multi-year hypersonic weapons development program supporting the service’s focus on long-range precision fires.
The Army is prototyping the land-based, ground launched LRHW that will provide residual combat capability to soldiers by fiscal year 2023. This prototype, being built under the direction of Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO), fields components of the LRHW to enable soldiers to fully train with the system and build tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs).
Hypersonic weapons, capable of flying at speeds greater than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5+), are a new capability that provide a unique combination of speed, maneuverability and altitude to defeat time-critical, heavily-defended and high value targets. Hypersonics is part of the Army’s number one modernization priority of Long Range Precision Fires, and is one of the highest priority modernization areas the Department of Defense is pursuing.
“With this delivery, we’ve taken another leap in advancing this capability to support the US Army’s long-range precision fires vision in support of joint all domain operations,” said Eric Scherff, vice president for Hypersonic Strike Programs at Lockheed Martin Space.
“We’re achieving great efficiencies by supporting this program and the US Navy’s Conventional Prompt Strike hypersonic program through the use of a common missile.”
The LRHW contract was originally awarded to Lockheed Martin in 2019. Other industrial partners involved in the program include Dynetics, General Atomics, General Dynamics, i3, Moog, Northrop Grumman, Penta Research, Raytheon and Verity Integrated Systems.
Future flight tests are slated for fiscal year 2022-2023, and the program remains on track, according to Lockheed Martin