The US Air Force has modified preliminary design review (PDR) contracts with Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon for a hypersonic cruise missile.
The updated contracts for the Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE) project being developed with Australia grant $39.7 million to Boeing, $27.2 to Lockheed Martin, and $27.99 million to Raytheon, the Department of Defense (DoD) revealed. Previously, the service had awarded $47.2 million to Boeing, $33.5 million to Lockheed, and $33.7 million to Raytheon for the project.
“The modification is an option exercise to mature a solid rocket-boosted, air-breathing, hypersonic conventional cruise missile, air-launched from existing fighter/bomber aircraft, through the completion of a (PDR),” DoD wrote.
Hypersonic Missile Project
The Boeing and Lockheed Martin PDR are expected to be complete by August 31, 2022, while Raytheon is expected by September 3, 2022.
The project was announced in November last year to ensure “the US and our allies lead the world in the advancement of this transformational warfighting capability,” Michael Kratsios, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, said.
The project will develop “air-breathing” hypersonic missile technologies and prototypes, “that are affordable and provide a flexible, long-range capability, culminating in-flight demonstrations in operationally relevant conditions,” the DoD explained.
Air-breathing propulsion uses atmospheric oxygen to burn the fuel stored on-board, which makes the missile lighter than others that carry oxidizers to burn fuel.
The missile will be powered with a scramjet engine and could be carried by aircraft such as the F/A-18F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler, F-35A Lightning II, and P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft.