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Alabama leads development of U.S. Army’s hypersonic weapons — ‘A critical priority’

Alabama’s aerospace and defense sector is continuing its ascent on the world stage.

The U.S. Army on Friday announced it is awarding two major contracts for work in Alabama related to the production of hypersonic weapon systems – one for Dynetics Technical Solutions in the amount of $351.6 million to produce Common-Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB) prototypes in Huntsville, and the second to Lockheed Martin in the amount of $347 million to serve as the Long Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) prototype system integrator, part of which will be conducted in Courtland.

In a statement, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) praised the contract awards.

“Hypersonic weapons are a critical priority as we continue to innovate and improve our nation’s defense,” he said.

“The decision by the Army to select Dynetics, located right here in Alabama, and Lockheed Martin’s Courtland facility to advance this important national security initiative is a testament to the complex defense work taking place in our state,” Shelby added. “These contracts allow us to leverage commercial technology to field needed weapons to our soldiers in just a few years. This is incredible news, not only for Alabama, but also for the entire nation and the modernization of our armed forces.”

The $351.6 million contract awarded to Dynetics will provide for the production of at least 20 C-HGB prototypes. Over a three year period, Dynetics, in collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories, will produce the first commercially manufactured set of prototype C-HGB systems, which will be used by the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy and the Missile Defense Agency.

As the prime contractor for the C-HGB, Dynetics will provide program and supplier management; procurement; assembly, integration and testing; electrical and mechanical manufacturing; and systems engineering for the prototype. In a release, the company said that General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon will be on their team, assisting on the project.

Steve Cook, president of Dynetics Technical Solutions, said, “We are honored to be selected for this high priority national security program. Dynetics has been developing enabling technologies for many years.”

“The common hypersonic glide body is a vital component in the National Defense Strategy that includes weapons with increased power. Our team is pleased the Army saw that our highly-skilled engineers and technicians can bring this technology rapidly and affordably to the warfighter,” he concluded.

The $347 million contract awarded to Lockheed Martin for its service as the LRHW prototype system integrator will allow for support in manufacturing, assembly, integration, test, systems engineering and analysis – part of which will occur at Lockheed Martin’s facility in Lawrence County.

Additionally, Lockheed Martin has chosen Dynetics to work on this project, developing launchers with hydraulics, outriggers, power generation and distribution for the ground platform. Dynetics will also provide flight test and training support.

The C-HGB will be part of an integrated Army hypersonic weapons system prototype that will deliver residual combat capability to soldiers by Fiscal Year 2023. This new class of ultrafast, maneuverable, long range missile will launch from mobile ground platforms. Hypersonic weapons are unique in that they are capable of flying at five times the speed of sound and operate at varying altitudes.

Both contracts are part of the U.S. Army’s work to advance the fielding of a prototype hypersonic weapon by Fiscal Year 2023 and transition the development of Army hypersonic capabilities out of government laboratories and into commercial production.

This collaboration is administered by the Army Hypersonic Project Office, part of the Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO), which is headquartered at Redstone Arsenal in North Alabama and led by Lieutenant General L. Neil Thurgood.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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