The US Air Force will award an engineering, manufacturing and development contract in early fiscal year 2018 to either
Orbital ATK or
Only those companies could produce the weapon within the USAF’s timeframe, according to a 21 July notice of contract action on the US Federal Business Opportunities website.
The hypersonic conventional strike weapon will provide a precision strike capability against fixed and moving targets in an anti-access, area-denial environment using Global Positioning System and Inertial Guidance System navigation. It will be shot from existing fighter jets and bombers.
There will be other contracts for hypersonic aerodynamics, aero-thermal protection systems, solid rocket motors, missile integration, advanced hypersonic guidance, navigation and control, and aircraft integration. They outline the need for a strike weapon powered by solid rocket motors, leaving out the possibility of an air-breathing supersonic combustion ramjet-propelled design.