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Air Force Picks Raytheon, Northrop for First Hypersonic Air-Breathing Missile

The missiles have scramjet engines that enable sustained flight at hypersonic speeds of Mach 5 or greater.

Photo Courtesy Of Raytheon Missiles And Defense
Raytheon Missiles and Defense

Raytheon Missiles & Defense, in partnership with Northrop Grummam, has been selected to develop the hypersonic attack cruise missile (HACM) for the U.S. Air Force (USAF). HACM is a first-of-its-kind weapon developed in conjunction with the Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE), a U.S. and Australia project arrangement.

Under this contract, the Raytheon and Northrop team will deliver operationally ready missiles to the USAF.

The HACM is an air-breathing, scramjet powered munition. Scramjet engines use high vehicle speed to forcibly compress incoming air before combustion, which enables sustained flight at hypersonic speeds – Mach 5 or greater. By traveling at these speeds, hypersonic weapons, like HACM, are able to reach their targets more quickly than similar traditional missiles, allowing them to potentially evade defensive systems.

Raytheon Technologies and Northrop Grumman have been working together since 2019 to develop, produce and integrate Northrop Grumman's scramjet engines onto Raytheon's air-breathing hypersonic weapons. Their combined efforts enable both companies to produce air-breathing hypersonic weapons, the next generation of tactical missile systems.

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