Systems that operate at hypersonic speeds—five times the speed of sound (Mach 5) and beyond—offer the potential for military operations from longer ranges with shorter response times and enhanced effectiveness compared to current military systems. Such systems could provide significant payoff for future U.S. offensive strike operations, particularly as adversaries’ capabilities advance.
The Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) program is a joint DARPA/U.S. Air Force (USAF) effort that seeks to develop and demonstrate critical technologies to enable an effective and affordable air-launched hypersonic cruise missile. These demonstrations seek to open the door to new, responsive long-range strike capabilities against time-critical or heavily defended targets. The program intends to emphasize efficient, rapid and affordable flight tests to validate key technologies.
HAWC plans to pursue flight demonstrations to address three critical technology challenge areas or program pillars—air vehicle feasibility, effectiveness, and affordability. Technologies of interest include:
HAWC technologies could also extend to future reusable hypersonic air platforms for applications such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and space access.
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