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.”