Raytheon has been awarded a $20,489,714 cost-plus-fixed-fee funding for the Hypersonic Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) missile program. The TBG program is for the development and demonstration of technologies to enable air-launched tactical range hypersonic boost glide systems. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Arlington, Virginia, is the contracting activity.
The Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) program is a Joint DARPA / Air Force effort that will develop and demonstrate technologies to enable air-launched tactical range hypersonic boost glide systems, including a flight demonstration of a vehicle that is traceable to an operationally relevant weapon that can be launched from current platforms. The program will also consider traceability to, and ideally compatibility, with the Navy Vertical Launch System (VLS). The metrics associated with this objective include total range, time of flight, payload, accuracy, and impact velocity. The program will address the system and technology issues required to enable development of a hypersonic boost glide system considering
(1) vehicle concepts possessing the required aerodynamic and aero-thermal performance, controllability and robustness for a wide operational envelope,
(2) the system attributes and subsystems required to be effective in relevant operational environments, and
(3) approaches to reducing cost and improving affordability for both the demonstration system and future operational systems. TBG capabilities are planned for transition to the Air Force and the Navy.
FY 2014 Accomplishments:
– Completed trade space analysis for tactical range hypersonic boost glide systems.
– Began development of TBG Concept of Operations (ConOps).
– Began development of TBG Operational System (OS) conceptual designs and system capabilities. – Completed a baseline operational analysis of the Government Reference Vehicle (GRV).
– Began operational analysis of the TBG performers operational systems.
– Began booster range and energy management study.
– Began aerodynamic and aerothermodynamic GRV risk reduction testing.
FY 2015 Plans:
– Complete TBG ConOps, Operational System conceptual design reviews and system capability documentation. – Complete operational analysis of the performer TBG operational systems.
– Complete operational analysis of evolved GRV.
– Complete TBG Demonstration System conceptual design and systems requirements reviews.
– Complete initial Technology Maturation Plans (TMPs).
– Complete initial Risk Management Plan (RMP).
– Select booster and launch platforms.
– Conduct initial test range and range safety coordination.
– Begin Phase I aerodynamic and aerothermal concept testing.
– Begin development of first generation aero databases.
– Complete aerodynamic and aerothermal GRV risk reduction testing.
– Complete booster range and energy management study.
FY 2016 Plans:
– Select TBG demonstration test range.
– Develop initial flight test plan.
– Complete Preliminary Design Reviews (PDR).
– Complete first generation aero databases.
– Continue risk reduction and qualification testing.
– Begin TBG concept refinement testing.
Hypersonic technology could be seen as a follow-on to stealth, Lewis said. Even if an aircraft has that kind of technology, it doesn’t mean it is invisible, he said. Adversaries are growing better at spotting stealthy aircraft, he said. Speed might compensate for that, he said. “If I can fly really fast, it makes it harder to act against me. It doesn’t make it impossible. But it makes it harder.”
Top Air Force leaders are indicating that they want to move hypersonic technology to the next level.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh and Secretary Deborah Lee James in the document “America’s Air Force: A Call to the Future,” said hypersonic development was number one on the service’s list of top five technology priorities.
“It’s about altitude and it’s about speed,” Masiello said Sept. 16. “It’s just plain physics in terms of missiles [not] being able to intercept a cruise missile going at Mach 5-plus up at 50,000 to 60,000 feet. That gives you the survivability aspect of it.”
The Air Force has teamed with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency on two new hypersonic programs. There is a cruise missile called HAWC, the hypersonic air-breathing weapons concept. The other is called tactical boost glide, which will accelerate an aircraft to Mach 5 plus speeds, then let it glide to its target.
“We’re going to have demonstrations within the next five years on both of those,” Masiello said. A fully reusable, combat-ready hypersonic aircraft may be in the Air Force fleet by the 2040s, he predicted.
Similarly, space planes could deliver payloads in minutes. The reusable space plane concept has been proposed many times over the years, and received a new lease on life when DARPA awarded three contracts to Boeing, Masten Space Systems and Northrop Grumman to study the idea of a two-stage launch system that could rapidly place 3,000 to 5,000 pounds into orbit. The Air Force has never given up on that idea, as evidenced by the new DARPA initiative, Lewis said.
DARPA experimental spaceplane (XS-1) program envisions a reusable aircraft that could be launched from a mobile platform, and return 10 times within 10 days. It would employ a reusable first stage that would fly to Mach 10 at a suborbital altitude. At that point, one or more expendable upper stages would separate and deploy a satellite into low-Earth orbit.
SOURCES – DARPA, Defense.gov, James Drew Journalist, National Defense Magazine
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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