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Kenneth Davidson: US Air Force, DARPA Team Up to Develop Scramjet-based Hypersonic Weapon

research and development RDThe U.S. Air Force has partnered with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop a hypersonic weapon based on the Boeing-made X-51 WaveRider scramjet flight demonstrator, Military.com reported Tuesday.

Kenneth Davidson, manager of the hypersonic materials development at the Air Force Research Laboratory, said the military service and DARPA are working together to reduce the size of the WaveRider hypersonic vehicle and turn it into a weapon that could be put on bombers as part of the High Speed Strike Weapon program, Brendan McGarry writes.

“So we’re looking at making it more durable, getting the guidance control developed so that it can become a weapon system, developing the ordnance,” Davidson said.

The High Speed Strike Weapon demonstration project is a follow-on program to the $300 million WaveRider scramjet technology, which recorded a speed of less than four minutes after being dropped from the wing of a B-52 bomber during its fourth flight mission in 2013, according to the report.

Davidson said the military branch intends to have the knowledge on the hypersonic weapon ready by 2020 in order to make informed decisions with regard to weapons acquisitions.

“Our goal is to provide a capability to stand off, launch these vehicles off the aircraft to hit time-critical dependent targets… And ultimately from a manufacturing standpoint, it’s got to be affordable,” he added.

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