Lockheed Martin (LMT) and Northrop Grumman (NOC) said late Thursday they successfully tested a key piece of a hypersonic missile system for the Army and Navy.
The first stage solid rocket motor fired for the full duration during a ground test and hit its performance objectives, according to a statement from the companies.
Eventually, the motor will be used in the Navy’s Conventional Prompt Strike program and U.S. Army’s Long Range Hypersonic Weapon program.
The Navy and Army will follow the successful test with another joint flight test in the first quarter of fiscal year 2022, which starts this October, the Navy said.
The first stage solid rocket motor will be part of a new missile booster for a common hypersonic missile.
Each service will use the missile, while developing separate weapon systems and launchers tailored for launch from sea or land.
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Hypersonic Missile Development
Lockheed stock dipped 0.7% to 384.83 on the stock market today, still above a 383.57 buy point, according to MarketSmith chart analysis. Northrop stock eased 0.2%.
A hypersonic missile flies five times the speed of sound. But unlike ballistic missiles, they fly in unpredictable paths, rendering their targets nearly defenseless with today’s technology.
Russia and China have tested their own hypersonic missiles in recent years, and the Pentagon has made the technology a top development priority.
Thursday’s test followed a setback last month on another hypersonic weapon initiative. Lockheed’s Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon prototype failed to launch in what was supposed to be its first flight test for the Air Force.
The weapon didn’t release from a Boeing (BA) B-52H Stratofortress and returned to Edwards Air Force Base in California.
Hypersonic missiles are is important to Lockheed’s future sales. In January, the defense contractor said it sees hypersonic weapon sales hitting $1.5 billion this year and sees that figure doubling to $3 million by 2025. That’s up from an estimated $1 billion in 2020 and $600 million in 2019.
Follow Gillian Rich on Twitter for defense news and more.
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