The US Department Missile Defense Agency (MDA) selected Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon to research and develop a missile system.
The companies have secured separate contracts worth a total of around $ 60 million to develop and test the first interceptor capable of defending the country against hypersonic threats.
Known as the Glide Phase Interceptor (GPI), the hypersonic weapon system will be able to defeat a new generation of hypersonic missiles.
Hypersonic weapons can fly at five times the speed of sound (Mach 5) and also have the ability to maneuver quickly in flight at different altitudes.
In a press release, Raytheon said he was developing the GPI to intercept hypersonic weapons in the glide phase of flight on behalf of the MDA.
This phase corresponds to the moment when the missile enters the Earth’s atmosphere and slides towards its target.
Raytheon noted that the initial development phase was aimed at reducing technical risks, rapidly developing the technology, and showing its ability to intercept a hypersonic threat.
The GPI will be combined with the US Navy’s ship-based and land-based Aegis weapon system.
Tay Fitzgerald, Vice President of Strategic Missile Defense, said: “Raytheon Technologies systems are the cornerstone of today’s ballistic missile defenses.
“We are building on this knowledge to advance the missile defense system against future threats.
“The speed, the ability to withstand extreme heat and the maneuverability of the GPI will make it the first missile designed to meet this advanced threat. ”
The US Navy recently conducted a second live fire test of the powder rocket engine (SRM) first stage at Promontory, in the US state of Utah.
This static fire test, conducted on October 28, marks a milestone in development and brings the hypersonic rocket motor closer to US Navy and Army flight tests.
In December 2018, the United States DoD considered continuing efforts to develop hypersonic weapons in order to combat potential advanced threats.