Two of a kind

Hypersonic commonalities drive efficiency

Artist’s rendering of hypersonic weapons

Artist’s rendering of hypersonic weapons

Both travel at warp speeds in excess of five times the speed of sound, or Mach 5.

One will defeat catastrophic threats deployed by near-peer competitors. The other will take out threats before they launch. Two different missions—common hypersonic technologies.

"Just like going to the moon or launching into space, our military needs us to deliver era-defining hypersonic systems to outpace the threat and keep the world a safer place, and we're all in," said Erin Kocourek, hypersonic initiative lead for Raytheon Missiles & Defense. 

As part of the newly formed defense powerhouse Raytheon Technologies, Raytheon Missiles & Defense is using its decades of expertise to mature its hypersonic systems rapidly and efficiently. Much of the company's work is centered on modeling simulation and faster prototype testing.

Reducing costs

Defensive and offensive hypersonic tech share many commonalities. Both heat up when traveling ultrafast, so their thermal protection systems are similar. Both require a guidance system that tells the missile exactly where to go. And both need a propulsion system that can reach hypersonic speeds.  

"Our teams collaborate to ensure they're leveraging common technologies and components, from the supply chain to the proprietary intellectual property we put into the technologies," Kocourek said.

These hypersonic weapons can be kinetic, like missiles, or non-kinetic cyber and directed energy systems such as lasers and high-power microwaves.

Seeing is believing

Space-based, surfaced-based and airborne sensing all play critical roles in defensive and offensive missions.

"If you can't see the threat, you can't defeat it," Kocourek said.

The company is modernizing its surface radars with gallium nitride technology to enhance range, increase detection and discrimination performance. This new technology lowers production costs when manufactured at scale and offers increased power over its predecessor, gallium arsenide.

Space-based sensors are being developed for a proposed satellite constellation to help track hypersonic missiles remotely. Space-based sensing offers persistent sensing, tracking and remote targeting, as opposed to ground-based sensing which is limited by the Earth's horizon.

From the sensor that detects the threat to the command and control system passing information to the effector that defeats the target, Raytheon Technologies is developing end-to-end hypersonic systems to protect the U.S. and its allies.

"No single component can defeat the threat alone," Kocourek said. "It takes an entire system of systems, and connecting the battlespace is imperative."

Published On: 07/16/2020