Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) illustration.
The U.S. Air Force’s Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) experimental missile has reportedly failed during tests last week.
In September, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced successful completion of captive carry tests of two variants of the HAWC, and said they were ready to proceed to first free-flight testing within the calendar year.
Both Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies have developed HAWC demonstrators.
“HAWC performers Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies have each tested advanced air vehicle configurations that promise to achieve and sustain efficient hypersonic flight. Their upcoming flight tests would focus on hydrocarbon scramjet-powered propulsion and thermal management techniques to enable prolonged hypersonic cruise, in addition to affordable system designs and manufacturing approaches,” the agency said.
Sources told Air Force Magazine that the Lockheed vehicle was the one being tested recently. The Air Force and DARPA got telemetry aircraft up and cleared the test area, but the missile was apparently not released from its B-52 mothership. The exact nature of the problem was not disclosed, but sources implied there were “basic errors” having to do with the mechanics of the test. They said last week’s attempt can’t be re-organized by the end of December.
Air Force acquisition boss Will Roper revealed at the inaugural Doolittle Leadership Center Forum on December 14 that the first booster flight of AGM-183 Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) will take place this month. Production of this missile will begin next year. The ARRW is expected to travel at Mach 5 or higher, to overcome enemy defenses. Initial operational capability is scheduled to be achieved by fiscal 2022.