The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded a $928m contract for the development of a hypersonic conventional strike weapon (HCSW) system.

The indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin. The company is currently working in close collaboration with the USAF to finalise system requirements under the contract’s initial task order.

The advanced air-launched hypersonic cruise missile will be capable of travelling more than five times faster than the speed of sound and be able to overcome enemy defences.

“Our goal is rapid development and fielding of the HCSW system, and this contract is the first step in achieving that goal.”

While this is the first phase of the HCSW development programme, future phases are currently progressing through design, flight test, initial production and deployment at early operational capability.

Lockheed Martin Air Force Strategic Programs vice-president John Snyder said: “Our goal is rapid development and fielding of the HCSW system, and this contract is the first step in achieving that goal.

“Design, development, production, integration and test experts from across Lockheed Martin will partner with the airforce to achieve early operational capability and deliver the system to our warfighters.”

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Production work on the HCSW cruise missile will be primarily carried out in Huntsville in Alabama, Valley Forge in Pennsylvania, and Orlando in Florida, as well as additional expertise being provided in Denver, Colorado, and Sunnyvale, California.

HCSW has been designed to deliver a prompt hypersonic / hypervelocity, precision strike capability against high-value, time-critical fixed and re-locatable surface targets in a single or multi-theatre challenged anti-access / area denial (A2/AD) environment.

The weapon system will use Global Position System / Inertial Guidance System for navigation and terminal guidance with a Government Furnished Equipment warhead.