Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control was awarded a $998 million contract modification to conduct a critical design review, test and production readiness support for the hypersonic Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) missile, the U.S. Department of Defense said in a release.
The work will be run out of Orlando, Florida, and is expected to be complete by the end of 2022 – when the missile is expected for operational capacity. The total cumulative face value of the contract is $988,832,126, the Monday, December 2 release said.
Fiscal year 2020 research, development, test and evaluation funds are to be obligated at $23,000,000.
The rocket-boosted ARRW is one of two air-launched hypersonic missiles publicly known to be undergoing testing by the Pentagon, which considers the project necessary step to maintain an edge over near-peer competitors China and Russia, which have invested significantly in hypersonic weapons technology.
Hypersonic missiles and vehicles travel faster than Mach-5 (about 6,170 km/h) and are intended to outrace and outmaneuver existing missile and air defense systems.
An ARRW without payload underwent successful testing at Andrews Air Force Base under the wing of a B-52 Stratofortress in June, according to the U.S. Air Force. The air-launched missile’s initial contract was awarded to Lockheed in August 2018.
“We’re using the rapid prototyping authorities provided by Congress to quickly bring hypersonic weapon capabilities to the warfighter,” a senior Air Force acquisition official said at the time.
Russia and China are currently developing hypersonic cruise missiles and glide vehicles.
The U.S. tested its first non-nuclear hypersonic weapon in 2011 as part of DARPA’s Prompt Global Strike System, which aimed to deliver a payload anywhere in the world in under an hour.
Russian officials have cited the U.S. PGS program as a motivation for developing their own hypersonic weapons.
The Defense Department’s has requested a significant increase in funding for hypersonic conventional weapons research over the next five years, asking about $593 million in FY2020, up from $278 million in FY2019.