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Huntsville to play role in developing Missile Defense Agency hypersonic weapons interceptor technology

Raytheon Missiles and Defense and Lockheed Martin were recently awarded Missile Defense Agency (MDA) contracts to develop the first-ever interceptor designed to eliminate the threat of hypersonic missiles.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), both companies will perform work on the Glide Phase Interceptor (GPI) partially at their respective Huntsville facilities. Both defense contractors’ awards totaled nearly $21 million each. The third participating company was Northrop Grumman, which the Pentagon said would conduct work at its Chandler, Arizona, location.

Hypersonic capabilities allow for a missile to travel at more than five times the speed of sound. The most recent display of such technology was showcased by China earlier this year as the communist regime’s missile test saw its nuclear-capable missile circle the globe in low earth orbit before nearly reaching its intended target.

Under the Pentagon’s announced terms, Huntsville will play a critical role in ensuring national security objectives are met in combating the potentially dire threat.

As new hypersonic weapons technologies pose a threat to the homeland, the GPI will be developed to intercept the missiles in flight. Raytheon noted that MDA will integrate the interceptor into the U.S. Navy’s ship-and-shore-based Aegis Weapon System.

Tay Fitzgerald, Raytheon vice president of Strategic Missile Defense, outlined the defense giant’s work toward meeting the U.S. military’s hypersonic defense needs.

“Raytheon Technologies systems are the cornerstone of today’s ballistic missile defenses. We’re building on that knowledge to advance the missile defense system for future threats,” advised Fitzgerald. “GPI’s speed, ability to withstand extreme heat, and maneuverability will make it the first missile designed to engage this advanced threat.”

According to DOD, the estimated completion date of the GPI technology will be September 2022.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL