Lockheed Martin is working on two approaches to hypersonic flight, company “Skunk Works” chief Rob Weiss told reporters Tuesday. One is the HAWC, for Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept, which the Air Force is working on with DARPA. The other is a Tactical Boost-Glide vehicle similar to the old “Common Aerospace Vehicle” concept. Both will be ready for flight demonstrations in 2018, Weiss said at a company media event. Both vehicles would be accelerated to hypersonic speeds by separate boosters, but at that point the HAWC would engage a scramjet engine. The HAWC will explore both the engine and materials that would make it unnecessary to liquid-cool the vehicle, as well as efficient air vehicle configurations and manufacturing techniques, Weiss reported. A future Skunk Works concept, soon to be pitched to DARPA, would be air-breathing from takeoff, he also reported. Lockheed is partnered with Aerojet Rocketdyne on the engine, Weiss noted. He also noted that the DARPA hypersonic work is unrelated to the Air Force’s Long-Range Standoff Missile project.
More than 100 B-21s will be needed if the nation is to avoid creating a high demand/low capacity capability, panelists said on a Hudson Institute webinar. The B-21's flexibility, stealth, range and payload will be in high demand for a wide range of missions, both traditional and new.