WASHINGTON — Raytheon beat out fellow defense giants Boeing and Lockheed Martin to win the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile (HACM) contract, worth $985 million, the Air Force announced today.
According to the contract announcement, the next phase of the program includes “HACM weapon system design, development and initial delivery through the performance of model-based critical design review, qualification, integration, manufacturing and testing.”
If HACM development continues to progress, the weapon could become the first scramjet-powered, air-launched hypersonic missile to be introduced into the Air Force’s inventory as early as 2027, the service said in a news release.
In 2020, the Royal Australian Air Force became involved in the development of the missile through the Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE) initiative, and could offer up Australian test infrastructure for the initial all-up-round flight tests, the Air Force said.
“HACM is a powerful example of developing and integrating combat capabilities alongside our partners from the beginning,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown. “HACM will provide our commanders with tactical flexibility to employ fighters to hold high-value, time-sensitive targets at risk while maintaining bombers for other strategic targets.”
Boeing, Lockheed and Raytheon won initial HACM design contracts in June 2021. Brig. Gen. Heath Collins, then the Air Force’s program executive officer for weapons, told Breaking Defense in May that the competitors were expected to finish preliminary design reviews before the end of September, which would allow the service to downselect to a single vendor before the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1.
The Air Force has shown a strong interest in the HACM program, requesting $316.8 million in its fiscal 2023 budget submission — an increase of almost $257 million more than FY22.
According to the budget, the HACM vendor will progress to the critical design review stage in FY23, where it will continue “the assembly, integration and test of subsystems for qualification testing, as well as prototype systems for system qualification, ground test and flight testing.”