Home Air DARPA, US Air Force nail final HAWC hypersonic weapon test flight

DARPA, US Air Force nail final HAWC hypersonic weapon test flight

Final HAWC air-breathing hypersonic weapon flight test
Illustration. Photo: Lockheed Martin

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the US Air Force have completed the final flight test of the Hypersonic Airbreathing Weapon Concept (HAWC).

The missile launched from a B-52 bomber, flying at speeds greater than Mach 5, higher than 60,000 feet, and farther than 300 nautical miles, achieving all test objectives.

This was also the second flight of a missile developed by Lockheed Martin that utilizes an Aerojet Rocketdyne scramjet engine. The first flight was announced in April last year. Raytheon, another missile developer that took part in the HAWC program, completed its final test in the summer of 2022.

“The nation’s hypersonic portfolio now has two feasible hypersonic airbreathing missile designs (Lockheed Martin and Raytheon) to improve and mature in the future,” DARPA said.

Even though the HAWC program has executed the final phase of the program, there is still data to analyze and more opportunities to mature the technology.

DARPA said it plans to continue that maturation in the More Opportunities with HAWC (MOHAWC) program by building and flying more vehicles that build upon HAWC’s advances. Those missiles will expand the operating envelope of the scramjet and provide technology on-ramps for future programs of record.

“This month’s flight added an exclamation point to the most successful hypersonic airbreathing flight test program in US history,” said Walter Price, an Air Force deputy for the HAWC program. “The things we’ve learned from HAWC will certainly enhance future US Air Force capabilities.”

“The HAWC program created a generation of new hypersonic engineers and scientists,” said Andrew “Tippy” Knoedler, the HAWC program manager. “HAWC also brought a wealth of data and progress to the airbreathing hypersonic community. The industry teams attacked the challenge of scramjet-powered vehicles in earnest, and we had the grit and luck to make it work.”