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DARPA Depends on Boeing for Hypersonic Interceptor

Nov. 2, 2023
A hypersonic interceptor is a weapon designed to destroy a hypersonic missile in mid-flight before it reaches a target.

Hypersonic weapons are enough of a concern for U.S. military forces that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) established its Glide Breaker program in 2018 to investigate technologies that might be used to defend against such weapons. Since that time, DARPA has recruited several major contractors to analyze various aspects of hypersonic weapons.

The most recent is Boeing, which will develop and test technologies for a hypersonic missile interceptor as part of a four-year contract. As part of the studies, Boeing will analyze fluid dynamics and aerodynamic interactions during flight testing.

Gil Griffin, executive director of Boeing Phantom Works Advanced Weapons, explained, “Hypersonic vehicles are among the most dangerous and rapidly evolving threats facing national security.” He added, “We’re focusing on the technological understanding needed to further develop our nation’s counter-hypersonic capabilities and defend from future threats.”

Hypersonic weapons refer to threats traveling at least 5X the speed of sound in the upper atmosphere, operating in what is known as “the glide phase” of flight. As enabled by the contract, Boeing will lay the foundations for the development of glide-phase interceptors capable of defending against hypersonic missiles and evolving hypersonic threats.

On the challenge, Griffin offered, “We’re operating on the cutting edge of what’s possible in terms of intercepting an extremely fast object in an incredibly dynamic environment.”

About the Author

Jack Browne | Technical Contributor

Jack Browne, Technical Contributor, has worked in technical publishing for over 30 years. He managed the content and production of three technical journals while at the American Institute of Physics, including Medical Physics and the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology. He has been a Publisher and Editor for Penton Media, started the firm’s Wireless Symposium & Exhibition trade show in 1993, and currently serves as Technical Contributor for that company's Microwaves & RF magazine. Browne, who holds a BS in Mathematics from City College of New York and BA degrees in English and Philosophy from Fordham University, is a member of the IEEE.

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