Northrop Grumman has received contract from the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to boost its hypersonic manufacturing capacity and affordability.

Funded through AFRL’s Manufacturing and Industrial Technology Division, the contract has an estimated value of $8.8m.

Northrop Grumman will use this amount to drive affordability for the hypersonic weapons that are currently being developed at its production facilities.

The company will also use the funds to work on shortening the overall time taken to produce hypersonic weapons.

According to Northrop Grumman, the company currently uses both conventional and modern innovative manufacturing techniques, approaches and digital engineering concepts to minimise part counts, inspection efforts, and touch labour.

This comprehensive method allows Northrop Grumman to successfully transition a particular hypersonic weapon from the research and development stage to the final manufacturing stage.

The company claimed that the entire process ensures predictable, sustainable and affordable lifecycle cost of the weapon in production. 

Northrop Grumman weapon systems vice-president and general manager Dan Olson said: “Increased manufacturing capacity is key to enabling our nation’s need for cost-effective hypersonic production at scale.

“Through our partnership with AFRL and our internal investments in propulsion infrastructure and innovation, we are making hypersonic a cost-effective reality.”

Furthermore, Northrop Grumman is also building a new ‘Hypersonic Center of Excellence (CoE)’ in Elkton, Maryland, US.

Once constructed, this Maryland-based facility will provide full lifecycle production support for the hypersonic weapons, by managing the process from the initial design stage to the development, production and integration stage.

In September, the US Air Force selected Northrop Grumman and Raytheon Missiles & Defense team to develop the service’s first hypersonic attack cruise missile.