The United States Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin, an American aerospace, defense, security and advanced technologies company, with a $928 million contract to design and prototype new hypersonic missiles. These high tech missiles can travel five times the speed of sound and outmaneuver the most advanced missile defense shields in the world, announced the Department of Defense’s (DoD).
The Air Force is working with Lockheed Martin to design a new hypersonic prototype. The service previously explored the technology with tests of the X-51A Waverider, shown here under the wing of a B-52 bomber. (U.S. Air Force graphic)
Last month, President Donald Trump signed a massive $1.3 trillion military-friendly omnibus bill. The 2,200-page legislation awards the most significant increase in military spending in more than 15-years. The DoD will get its base budget of $589.5 billion and $65.2 billion for its foreign wars. The remainder of the $700 billion will be appropriated to other defense-related programs, such as a broad push to kickstart America’s hypersonic arsenal.
The indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the “design, development, engineering, systems integration, test, logistics planning, and aircraft integration support of all the elements of a hypersonic, conventional, air-launched, stand-off weapon,” the DoD press release stated on Wednesday.
The total value of the contract is worth $928 million over the course of the hypersonic program, which the press release failed to give specifics on timeframes. The design and prototyping will be completed at Lockheed Martin Space Systems facilities in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed won the contract after it beat out three other offers. Fiscal 2018 first task order to Lockheed will be for the “research, development, test and evaluation” of the hypersonic program, said the press release.
“This effort is one of two hypersonic weapon prototyping efforts being pursued by the Air Force to accelerate hypersonics research and development,” service spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said in a statement. “The Air Force is using prototyping to explore the art-of-the-possible and to advance these technologies to a capability as quickly as possible.”
As we have discussed previously, “hypersonic aircraft and missiles are being developed and tested by the United States, Russia, and China at an accelerating pace.” In other words, the era of hypersonic technology has arrived with a bang. Many of the world’s superpowers have realized that the first to possess these technologies will revolutionize their civilian and military programs.
Now, we understand, why hypersonic missile technology has become a top priority for the Pentagon because, in other words, these high tech weapons have the potential to reshape the post–World War II modern economic system away from the West’s control. Already, Russia and China have conducted numerous successful tests of hypersonic weapons that can carry conventional or nuclear warheads.
The announcement of Lockheed’s billion-dollar hypersonic contract comes as Undersecretary of Defense for Research Michael Griffin presented last month at the McAleese-Credit Suisse Defense Conference in which he warned, “when the Chinese can deploy tactical or regional hypersonic systems, they hold at risk our carrier battle groups. They hold our entire surface fleet at risk. They hold at risk our forward deployed land-based forces.”
Griffin emphasized that Beijing has administered “20 times as many of hypersonic weapon tests as has the United States over the last decade.” He stated Beijing is spending billions to develop and test non-nuclear versions of hypersonic weapons that could render the United States Navy’s nuclear-powered aircraft carriers unprotected against a hypersonic strike.
On Apri 17, Griffin told House Armed Services Committee, “the most significant advance by our adversaries has been the Chinese development of what is now today a pretty mature system for the conventional prompt strike at multi-thousand kilometer range. We will, with today’s defensive systems, not see these things coming.”
While it is shocking to observe how Pentagon officials openly admit that foreign hypersonic threats could be a major headache to the American empire, the reality of a dying nation has been realized with government officials scrambling to infuse Lockheed Martin with $1 billion for hypersonic cruise missiles. What does this all mean you might ask? Well, the Pentagon’s hypersonic program(s) are tremendously behind the eight ball, as Russia and China steam ahead…