US Air Force Research Ramping up Program to Mature Hypersonic Weapon Technologies

U.S. Air Force researchers are moving forward with a program to develop a hypersonic munition able to attack and destroy targets quickly over long distances, and pose lethal threats to many different targets in many different locations all at the same time.

They are seeking new enabling technologies to support the High Speed Strike Weapon (HSSW) program.

Besides striking quickly, there is work describing needing hypersonic weapon capabilities to create vastly superior bunker busting weapons. Superhard weapons using diamond-SiC material, with hypersonic speed and superior nanoparticle explosives would be able to more than triple the penetrating power of a future bunker buster.

The overall program includes two demonstrations for an air-breathing vehicle and a boost-glide vehicle that focus on near-term enabling technologies that require flight testing.

They want maturing technologies in six areas:

1. modeling, simulation, and analysis (MS and A);
2. ordnance;
3. guidance navigation and control and airframe;
4. propulsion;
5. materials and structures and manufacturing; and
6. conceptual design and systems integration.

“We’re taking lessons learned from X-51 and using them in development of HSSW [high-speed strike weapon],” said John Leugers, the principal aerospace engineer at the AFRL munitions directorate.

HSSW is a Lockheed Martin Skunk Works concept under which the company plans to demonstrate hypersonic flight and to provide the basis for future hypersonic programmes, including both expendable missiles and reusable aircraft.

SOURCES – Military Aerospace, Janes.com

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