The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded a new contract worth up to $480m for the design of a second hypersonic weapon prototype.

Awarded to Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, the contract will include the delivery of critical design review, test and production readiness support for the USAF’s air-launched rapid response weapon (ARRW).

USAF secretary Heather A Wilson said: “We are going to go fast and leverage the best technology available to get hypersonic capability to the warfighter as soon as possible.”

“The first hypersonic weapon rapid prototype is called the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon, which together with the ARRW offers new advanced capabilities for troops.”

The ARRW is one of two hypersonic weapon prototypes that are being developed by the airforce to support hypersonic research and development.

On 28 June, a memorandum of agreement was signed between the US Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency, USAF, US Navy and the US Army to work jointly on hypersonic boost glide technology development.

USAF chief of staff general David L Goldfein said: “The joint team requires the right mix of agile capabilities to compete, deter and win across the spectrum of competition and conflict.

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“We must push the boundaries of technology and own the high ground in this era of great power competition and beyond.”

The first hypersonic weapon rapid prototype is called the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon, which together with the ARRW offers new advanced capabilities for troops.

The Armament Directorate of the US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is responsible for providing programme management of the two hypersonic weapon prototyping efforts.