Hypersonic vehicle concept notches successful test flight by DARPA and U.S. Air ForceNews
September 27, 2021
ARLINGTON, Va. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) teamed up recently with the U.S. Air Force to complete a free flight test of the DARPA Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC). The missile -- built for DARPA by Raytheon Technologies -- was released from an aircraft seconds before its Northrop Grumman scramjet [supersonic combustion ramjet] engine kicked on.
According to a DARPA news release, the HAWC engine compressed incoming air mixed with its hydrocarbon fuel and began igniting the airflow mixture, thereby propelling the cruiser at a speed greater than Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound). The HAWC vehicle is optimized for an oxygen-rich atmosphere, where speed and maneuverability make it difficult to detect in a timely way; this means that the missile has significant kinetic energy even without high explosives and would be able to strike targets much more quickly than subsonic missile.
DARPA information reveals that the goals of the mission -- vehicle integration and release sequence, safe separation from the launch aircraft, booster ignition and boost, booster separation and engine ignition, and cruise -- were met.
Andrew "Tippy" Knoedler, HAWC program manager in DARPA's Tactical Technology Office, says that the succesful test flight brings the agency one step closer to transitioning HAWC to a program of record that offers next-generation capability to the U.S military.