FARNBOROUGH, England — The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency this week announced a second successful flight test of Raytheon Technologies’ Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapons Concept.
HAWC missiles are powered by a scramjet engine, designed to perform in the extreme conditions experienced by hypersonic weapons as they travel and maneuver at speeds above Mach 5. The test occurred in early July, and the agency said in a July 18 statement it expanded its understanding of the weapon’s engine capability and met all of its test parameters.
“This most recent test allowed exploration of more of the flight and scramjet engine operating envelopes,” program manager Andrew Knoedler said. “DARPA demonstrations are always about learning, whether it’s in the interest of feasibility or practicality, and this time we certainly got new information that will further improve performance.”
Raytheon and Lockheed Martin are both developing HAWC prototypes through a joint effort between DARPA and the U.S. Air Force. Lockheed’s missile had its first test in March, but the program has not yet confirmed a second flight. Northrop Grumman developed the engine for Raytheon’s missile, while Aerojet Rocketdyne developed Lockheed’s.
Raytheon’s President of Air Power Paul Ferraro told C4ISRNET in a July 19 interview at the Farnborough Airshow the company’s approach to HAWC development relies heavily on digital engineering and high-fidelity models to better understand its missile’s response to the environment before it takes flight.
That’s especially important for hypersonic missiles because the extreme environments in which they operate can cause them to deform or change shape during flight, which affects their performance. Ferraro said Raytheon has advanced its modeling to the point that it can use testing history to create a more comprehensive understanding of the missile’s attributes.
That degree of foreknowledge about the system’s performance is a paradigm shift, Ferraro said.
“What we used to do is test to learn about the design,” he said. “Now, we more or less test to validate our models, and that’s where our real learning and design information comes from.”
Having better models also means the government can shift more of its validation work into the digital environment, helping alleviate constraints on flight-test infrastructure, Ferraro said.
As DARPA collects data from the early July HAWC test, the agency is making plans for the program’s next phase, which it announced in its fiscal 2023 budget request. DARPA requested $60 million for the new-start effort, called MoHAWC, to support continued technology development, pay for long-lead component procurement for four more flight-test systems and fund risk reduction for assembly, integration and ground testing.