The long-serving Tomahawk and the brand-new JASSM-ER are just two of the cruise missiles that the Pentagon has in its inventory. The new Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile (HACM), which will go into service in 2027, can fly up to 20 times faster than current missiles, leaving enemies little time to flee its fury. The HACM will be the first mass-produced weapon to utilise scramjet engines that breathe air.
A $985 million contract was awarded to Raytheon and Northrop Grumman to create the first hypersonic cruise missile in history. The HACM is an air-launched hypersonic cruise missile created for the US and Australia with the goal of fast hitting ground targets. The Pentagon should get the first operational missiles under the pact in 2027.
The Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment partnership, or SCIFiRE, was launched by the US and Australia in 2020. SCIFiRE, named after the constellation depicted on the Australian flag, was created with the goal of creating an air-breathing hypersonic weapon system that could be mounted on both American and Australian aircraft, such as the F/A-18 Super Hornet, the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, the P-8A Poseidon, and others. The Raytheon SCIFiRE prototype will develop into a functional weapon system thanks to the deal.
How Russia Invented the Hypersonic Missile Before America
Traditional cruise missiles function similarly to unmanned aircraft. Similar to many aeroplanes, cruise missiles are propelled at subsonic speeds by turbofan engines. A slower speed enables cruise missiles to fly lower and closer to the ground, which is how they avoid radar detection. For instance, Tomahawk cruise missiles travel at a speed of 550 miles per hour while hovering between 98 and 164 feet in the air.
As a hypersonic weapon, HACM travels at Mach 5 or faster, albeit we are unsure of the precise speed at which it will do so. The majority of air-to-air missiles, for example, reach their maximum speed at about Mach 3+.The preceding HIFiRE programme, which tested a scramjet engine at speeds of up to Mach 8, gave rise to SCIFiRE.
The HACM will be the first operational scramjet-powered weapon system in existence. Scramjets draw oxygen from the atmosphere for fuel, similar to turbofan engines. One significant distinction between the two is that a scramjet consumes oxygen at supersonic speeds, whereas a turbofan engine consumes it at subsonic speeds.
The HACM will be the first operational scramjet-powered weapon system in existence. Scramjets draw oxygen from the atmosphere for fuel, similar to turbofan engines. One significant distinction between the two is that a scramjet consumes oxygen at supersonic speeds, whereas a turbofan engine consumes it at subsonic speeds. The scramjet engine may move the missile even more quickly since more oxygen equates to more fuel. NASA states that scramjet engines should function up to Mach 15. That amounts to 11,509 miles per hour, which would take two hours to complete an orbit around the Earth.
The newest trend in combat is the use of hypersonic weapons. Since the ballistic missiles that carry nuclear bombs travel at hypersonic speeds and can impact their targets at up to 15,000 miles per hour, the majority of the acknowledged nuclear powers have technically had hypersonic weapons for at least 50 years. In contrast to previous generations of hypersonic weapons, this new generation is non-nuclear in nature and would be employed right away in a conventional conflict.
We don’t know a lot of things regarding HACM. We have no idea how fast or how far it really flies. All we know is that it will be available by 2027 and that it is small enough to be carried by a fighter plane. There is no denying that HACM is clunky and that a new name is required.
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