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Lockheed Martin Outlines HypersonIC Programs By Julian Nettlefold





Doug R. Graham, Vice President, Advanced Programs Development, Lockheed Martin Space, Sunnyvale, CA, gave a brief on Lockheed Martin’s involvement in key U.S. hypersonic programs.

“There has been a remarked shift in U.S. hypersonic strategy since 2018 as the U.S. recognises the huge advances made by China and Russia particularly in their indigenous hypersonic capabilities. They are using their hypersonic technology to project power over the U.S. and its allies.  The U.S. intends to invest $3 billion in hypersonics in 2002 with the aim to have a US Navy capability by 2025 and USAF by mid-2020s.” Doug Graham said. “With hypersonic capabilities being a national security priority, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Air Force are accelerating the maturation and fielding of a hypersonic weapon system. Hypersonic systems are a game-changer for national security. Creating hypersonic technology presents several tough, complex engineering challenges. Hypersonic systems will travel at Mach 5 and potentially even faster. To give you an idea, at Mach 5, you’re traveling over a mile per second.”

Hypersonic weapons provide a survivable and affordable capability that will overcome distance in contested environments using high speed, altitude and maneuverability. They amplify many of the enduring attributes of airpower – speed, range, flexibility and precision.

Robust experience in high-speed flight has positioned Lockheed Martin to be an industry leader in hypersonic technology, providing the most mature and cost-effective solutions for addressing increasing threats in the global security arena.

Lockheed Martin has played a significant role in the research, development and demonstration of hypersonic technologies for more than 30 years. The corporation has made significant investments in key technology and capability development – including hypersonic strike capabilities and defense systems against emerging hypersonic threats – and is firmly committed to supporting the U.S. government in developing these technologies.

Creating a system that fast means overcoming a number of difficult engineering and physics challenges:


Hypersonic systems provide advantages in terms of speed to target, maneuverability and survivability to reach hard and well-defended targets. At hypersonic speeds, friction and air resistance create an incredible amount of heat, which needs to be managed through tough but lightweight heat shields and thermal protection systems. Sensors and electronics must also be hardened to withstand extreme conditions.

Innovative Materials

Managing extreme heat and speed means applying advanced materials and composites that can withstand extreme environments.


Hypersonic systems are designed to operate in contested environments and must be capable of overcoming a wide range of defenses. 


A system moving at a mile every second needs to operate with an incredible degree of precise maneuverability.


Basic operations, like communications, become a significant challenge during hypersonic flight. A system must maintain connectivity to operators and decision-makers through a global communications and sensor systems.

Doug Graham then went on to give details of the hypersonic programs which Lockheed is involved with.


In June 2019 The U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin successfully flight tested the AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) on the service’s B-52 Stratofortress out of Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on June 12, 2019.

This captive carry flight was the most recent step in the U.S. Air Force’s rapid prototyping effort to mature the hypersonic weapon, AGM-183A, which successfully completed a preliminary design review in March. More ground and flight testing will follow over the next three years.

On August 10th the U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin successfully flight tested the second AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) on the service’s B-52 Stratofortress out of Edwards Air Force Base, California, on Aug. 8, 2020. This captive carry flight was conducted with tactical hardware and fully instrumented to collect thermal, mechanical and digital data from the flight vehicle. This is the first time a tactical ARRW missile has been assembled. Additional ground and flight testing will follow over the next two years.

“The team overcame significant challenges driven by the COVID-19 pandemic to achieve this significant milestone for the program,” said Doug Graham “This captive carry mission is the pre-cursor for our first booster test flight planned for early 2020s.”

US Navy IRCPS Weapon System

In February 2019 Lockheed Martin won a $846m modification to a previously awarded contract for the design, development, build and integration of large diameter rocket motors, associated missile body flight articles, and related support equipment for Navy Intermediate Range Conventional Prompt Strike (IRCPS) Weapon System (WS) flight test demonstrations.

Work is expected to be completed by Jan. 1, 2024, the United States department of Defense said in a statement Wednesday.

This procurement provides for the design, development, build and integration of large diameter rocket motors, associated missile body flight articles, and related support equipment for Navy IRCPS flight test demonstrations.

Tactical Boost Glide (TBG)

The Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) program is a joint DARPA/U.S. Air Force (USAF) effort that aims to develop and demonstrate technologies to enable future air-launched, tactical-range hypersonic boost glide systems. In a boost glide system, a rocket accelerates its payload to high speeds. The payload then separates from the rocket and glides unpowered to its destination.

The TBG program plans to focus on three primary objectives:

* Vehicle Feasibility—Vehicle concepts possessing the required aerodynamic and aerothermal performance, controllability and robustness for a wide operational envelope

* Effectiveness—System attributes and subsystems required to be effective in relevant operational environments

* Affordability—Approaches to reducing cost and increasing value for both the demonstration system and future operational systems

TBG is a two-phase effort that plans to include ground and flight testing to mature critical technologies, and aims to demonstrate the system performance achievable through the integration of those technologies. The program is using a disciplined systems engineering approach to define demonstration system objectives and identify enabling technologies needed for future systems. The TBG program is exploiting the technical knowledge and lessons derived from development and flight testing of previous boost glide systems, including the Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2).

Other hypersonic programs that Lockheed is involved with include the  US Navy Intermediate Missile for SSN launch and the US Army long range hypersonics ground launched missile which will have its first launch in 2021 with the first batteries delivered by the end of 2023; both systems will use the same missile.

In April, Defense News reported that the US Air Force wants to develop a hypersonic cruise missile.

The U.S. Air Force is seeking information from industry about hypersonic cruise missile technology, with the hopes of starting up a new prototyping program in the near future.

The service issued a sources sought notification on April 27 asking companies to submit information about air-breathing conventional hypersonic cruise missiles that could be launched from fighter jets and bombers.

The responses will help the Air Force determine whether to begin funding a new program of record and figure out how quickly it will be able to field the new weapon, said Air Force acquisition executive Will Roper.

“In the case of how fast we could go with the scramjet technology getting into cruise missile and missionizing it, I think we can go fast,” he told reporters April 30. “I don’t know how fast — that’s why we’re reaching out to the street. But given how far scramjet technology has matured, I’d expect that we’ll be able to go pretty quickly on this.”

According to the solicitation, the service would aim to conduct a preliminary design review in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021. The technologies offered should feature ramjet, scramjet or dual-mode propulsion — a major difference from the hypersonic weapons currently under development by the Defense Department, which are all boost glide missiles.

There are multiple advantages to fielding air-breathing and boost glide hypersonic weapons, Roper said. Boost glide missiles fly just below space, above the “thick atmosphere” where scramjet missiles would fly. That allows scramjet missiles to take on certain missions and targets that boost-glide systems cannot engage.

“In the world of competing technology, we can’t afford to have any blind spots or cede any ground. So we’re preparing to make sure we don’t cede ground on scramjet technology and hypersonic cruise missiles as a whole,” Roper said.

“We will have greater flexibility with this as a whole. That’s one reason we’re interested in accelerating the technology. It’s mature, it’s ready. It will give our operators greater flexibility.”

It will also allow the Defense Department to diversify the number of companies that can produce hypersonic weapons, he said.

“In the case of boost glide technology, a lot of our major programs in the department go to the same suppliers,” in part because those companies have pioneered materials and components that have not been replicated throughout industry, Roper said. “One of the reasons I’m excited about starting a hypersonic cruise missile program is that we will have different suppliers. It’s a very different technology.”

Roper said the hypersonic cruise missile effort would involve inputs from the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

In particular, DARPA’s Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept, or HAWC, effort could inform the new program. As part of the effort, a Raytheon-Northrop Grumman team and a Lockheed Martin-Aerojet Rocketdyne team are building scramjet-powered hypersonic vehicles.

“Scramjet technology has come a long way. I have been exceptionally impressed by what new manufacturing techniques are enabling,” Roper said. “I entered this job thinking scramjet will probably be a step behind boost glide. I am delighted to say that I was wrong. Scramjet is much more mature and ready to go than I originally thought.”

The Air Force may be embarking on a new hypersonic weapons program just months after canceling one of its two development efforts, the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon, or HCSW. Although HCSW showed promise and was on track for flight tests, the service killed it the fiscal 2021 budget rollout this February in favor of the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon.

Both ARRW and HCSW are boost-glide weapons made by Lockheed, but the Air Force decided to pursue ARRW because it was more affordable and could be carried in larger quantities by the B-52 and F-15 aircraft, Roper said.


The U.S. Army is looking at PrSM, a hypersonic system to replace the Lockheed Martin ATACMS systems currently deployed with a range of 500kms.

The Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) is the next-generation, long-range precision-strike missile designed for the U.S. Army’s PrSM program. This new surface-to-surface weapon system will deliver enhanced capabilities to attack, neutralize, suppress and destroy targets using missile-delivered indirect fires out to 499+ kilometers. PrSM provides the Joint Force Commander with increased range, lethality, survivability and missile load out. These enhanced capabilities are critical to the successful execution of Fires in support of Multi-Domain Operations.

Lockheed Martin’s PrSM missile contains an insensitive munition (IM) propulsion system and IM energetic payload capable of defeating the PrSM target set. It also features an open systems architecture design for maximum affordability and flexibility, is modular for future growth and HIMARS and M270 compatible.

Lockheed Martin PrSM Specifics:

  • Two PrSM rounds per launch pod
  • Ranges from 60 to 499 kilometers
  • Based upon Lockheed Martin’s decades of unparalleled experience in Precision Fires rockets and missiles
  • Open systems architecture
  • Modular and easily expandable
  • IM energetic payload
  • Compatible with both MLRS M270 and HIMARS family of launchers

Defeating The Hypersonic Threat

The U.S. is developing hypersonic defeat technology as a matter of urgency as research has shown that these systems can evade current radar systems. That is why Spacecom is making a big push for new and advanced hypersonic detection systems in space. The aim is to have a global sensor network linking the ground based and space-based systems to provide an overall defensive counter-hypersonic shield with tracking missiles to defeat the incoming threat.

Douglas R. Graham Bio

Douglas R. Graham, Vice President, Advanced Programs Development

Lockheed Martin Space, Sunnyvale, CA

Douglas R. “Doug” Graham joined Lockheed Martin in March 1993 after serving for more than a decade in a variety of positions in the U.S. Executive and Legislative branches. During his Lockheed Martin career, he has performed a series of roles with increasing complexity and program management responsibility. Most recently, in January 2018, Doug was named Vice President of Advanced Program Development, Strategic and Missile Defense Systems. In this role, he is responsible for helping drive the Enterprise growth strategy by developing innovative, affordable and integrated mission solutions to meet emerging customer needs. Focus areas include strategic deterrence, advanced missile defense, hypersonic conventional strike and directed energy.        

In addition to his professional responsibilities. Mr. Graham has been active in community organizations.  This has included serving on the San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors (2009-2014), the Chamber’s Executive Committee (2011-2014), the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (2014 to the present), and he has recently been asked to serve as the Chairman of the USO Bay Area Advisory Council. 

Mr. Graham graduated from Amherst College in Amherst, Mass., in 1981 and received a Masters Degree in Government (National Security Studies) from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., in 1988. 

He lives in Morgan Hill, Calif., with his wife Margaret, and they have three children. 

Professional Awards:

* Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service, January 1993.

Professional Memberships:

* American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

* Association of the U.S. Army

* Air Force Association

* Directed Energy Professional Society


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