17:23 GMT +317 January 2020
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    Aerojet Rocketdyne, an American rocket and missile propulsion manufacturer, was recently awarded a hefty contract by US defense contractor Lockheed Martin to manufacture a solid-fuel rocket motor that will propel a hypersonic missile for the US Air Force.

    A Tuesday news release from the rocket manufacturer reveals that the company was awarded a subcontract from Lockheed to the tune of $81.5 million to manufacture the missile’s motor. Defense News reported that Lockheed Martin was initially contracted by the US Air Force in April 2018 design a missile prototype for the project.

    The US is presently racing to advance its hypersonic capabilities under the service’s Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW) program while China and Russia continue to make breakthroughs in the area. The US Air Force’s new cruise missile is expected to travel at more than five times the speed of sound.

    Aerojet Rocketdyne will now be responsible for manufacturing the missile’s motor, the release notes.

    “Aerojet Rocketdyne is a world leader in hypersonic technology, which has been singled out by the US Department of Defense as a top technical priority,” Eileen Drake, Aerojet Rocketdyne’s CEO and president, said in a statement. “We look forward to leveraging and expanding those capabilities as an integral part of Lockheed Martin’s HCSW team.”

    Aerojet Rocketdyne further notes in its release that the HCSW program is in its “early phases and will progress through design, flight testing and initial production and deployment.” 

    Lockheed Martin’s contract through the initial operational capability phase is valued at roughly $928 million.

    In February, US President Donald Trump signed a directive ordering the Pentagon to establish a US Space Force that would operate as the US military’s sixth branch within the Air Force. This week, Congress approved a defense budget bill that would create Trump’s desired sixth armed service. Under the Space Force, hypersonic and ballistic missile weapons would be developed by the US Air Force for defensive use in space.

    On Monday, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) commended Congress for approving the bill. “It accelerates investment in efforts to modernize our armed forces, including creating hypersonic weapons, 5G [cellular network technology], cyber, long-range missiles and new equipment — areas where we are at risk of, or in some cases already are, falling behind,” the chairman noted.

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    Tags:
    Lockheed Martin, US Air Force, Pentagon, hypersonic missiles
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