On April 18, the Pentagon said in a statement that Lockheed Martin had secured a $928 million contract to build an undefined number of hypersonic conventional strike weapons for the US military.
The Pentagon stated that the company would createthe “hypersonic conventional strike weapon”. According to the contract Lockheed Martin will be responsible for “design, development, engineering, systems integration, test, logistics planning, and aircraft integration support of all the elements of a hypersonic, conventional, air-launched, stand-off weapon”.
The non-nuclear missile will be fired from warplanes and will be difficult to track due to its ability to switch direction mid-flight to avoid predictable arcs. The development will take place in the northern Alabama city of Huntsville, which is dubbed the “Rocket City” as it was the birthplace of the US missile program.
On April 19, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin said that China had built “a pretty mature system” for a hypersonic missile, stressing:
“We will, with today’s defensive systems, not see these things coming,” Griffin said.
Air Force service spokeswoman Ann Stefanek stressed the value of this contract:
“This effort is one of two hypersonic weapon prototyping efforts being pursued by the Air Force to accelerate hypersonics research and development,” Air Force Time neswpaper quoted Stefanek as saying.
Lockheed Martin’s contract to develop hypersonic weapons came after an official announcement by Russia that Moscow had already developed and obtained such missiles.