DARPA Developing Counter-Hypersonic Weapons Capability

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has released details on a new missile defense program called Glide Breaker, which aims to demonstrate a capability to defeat maneuvering hypersonic weapons in the upper atmosphere.

Key aspects of the program are classified, but the agency is seeking proposals that could meet program objectives at a low cost under a rapid schedule, according to a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) released on November 6.  A notional schedule calls for a preliminary design review in mid-2019, a critical design review by the end of 2019, and a test readiness review in mid-2020.  A test is tentatively planned for the end of 2020.

DARPA is in search of innovative proposals, and said that proposals focused primarily on “evolutionary” improvements will not be considered at this time.  DARAP may solicit proposals for further technology development work through a separate BAA in the middle of fiscal year 2019.

Proposals are due December 21, 2018.  The agency plans to award a single contract award, but said that multiple awards are possible.

This program is driven by a need to counter hypersonic weapons being developed by Russia and China.  Current missile defense systems were designed to counter existing threats such as ballistic missiles that have relatively simple trajectories, or traditional cruise missiles that can be intercepted with traditional kinetic interceptors.

About Shaun McDougall

Shaun McDougall is an analyst at Forecast International covering the U.S. and Canadian defense markets.

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