Boeing gets $70.5 million contract to build a hypersonic interceptor

Nothing is more dangerous in the world now than a hypersonic missile. China, Russia, and the U.S. are all developing hypersonic missiles that can travel at five times the speed of sound, potentially bringing either a conventional or a nuclear warhead to either a military target (like an aircraft carrier, missile launcher, or an air force base) or in the worst-case scenario – a major population center.

There is no time to evacuate, and hypersonics are highly maneuverable and will outrun the current generation of fighter jets and anti-missile systems. The Pentagon is aware of the growing threat that hypersonics pose and is determined to do something about it. To that end, Boeing was selected to receive a $70.5 million contract to develop and test technologies for an aerial weapon that would destroy enemy hypersonic missiles. 36% of the work will be performed in Huntsville, Alabama.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced the award of the four-year competitive contract, which is expected to be completed in February 2027.

Boeing Co. was awarded the $70,554,525 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract, excluding one unexercised option, for the Glide Breaker Phase 2 program. The work on the project will be performed in Huntsville, Alabama (36%); Seal Beach, California (21%); St. Louis, Missouri (18%); Elkton, Maryland (14%); Buffalo, New York (4%); Gardner, Massachusetts (3%); College Station, Texas (2%); West Lafayette, Indiana (1%); and Minneapolis, Minnesota (1%).

This is a high priority that $8,169,311 is in upfront 2023 fiscal year money (FY2023 ends on September 30) and is obligated at the time of award. This contract is a competitive acquisition in accordance with the original Broad Agency Announcement.

Boeing said in a statement that their team will perform computational fluid dynamics analysis, wind tunnel testing, and evaluation of aerodynamic jet interaction effects during flight tests of the prototype.

Gil Griffin is the executive director of Boeing Phantom Works Advanced Weapons. Griffin emphasized the importance of the team’s mission.

“Hypersonic vehicles are among the most dangerous and rapidly evolving threats facing national security,” said Executive Director Griffin. “We’re focusing on the technological understanding needed to further develop our nation’s counter-hypersonic capabilities and defend from future threats.”

Glide Breaker is intended to inform the design and development of future hypersonic interceptors, which could destroy a threat traveling at least five times the speed of sound in the upper atmosphere during what’s known as the “glide phase” of flight.

The Boeing-led development and testing will provide the foundation for future operational glide-phase interceptors capable of defending the homeland against these sophisticated and evolving hypersonic threats.

“This phase of the Glide Breaker program will determine how factors like hypersonic airflow and firing jet thrusters to guide the vehicle affect system performance at extreme speed and altitude in a representative digital environment,” Griffin explained. “We’re operating on the cutting edge of what’s possible in terms of intercepting an extremely fast object in an incredibly dynamic environment.”

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