Raytheon announced Wednesday that it has won a $20 million Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contract to develop and demonstrate technology to enable air-launched hypersonic boost glide systems for missiles for the Tactical Boost Glide program (TBG).
The hypersonics will enable missiles to fly more than five times faster than speed of sound. Hypersonic weapons would be difficult to intercept, and would enable warfighters to strike targets at long range much more quickly than current missile technology allows.
"Hypersonics is the new frontier of missile design and development," said Tom Bussing, Raytheon vice president of Advanced Missile Systems. "The extreme environments where these advanced missiles must operate present significant engineering challenges."
Once fielded, TBG could fly at speeds faster than Mach 5 and at altitudes of nearly 200,000 feet. To achieve the required speeds, the re-entry vehicles would be designed to skip across the inside of Earth's upper atmosphere before descending on their targets. The new missiles would have to withstand intense heat while remaining highly maneuverable, and would require sensor packages to engage moving or re-locatable targets.