Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control received a $480 million contract to design a second hypersonic missile prototype for the U.S. Air Force.
The contract, covering work on one of two Air Force efforts to develop hypersonic weapon prototypes, includes critical design review, test and production support for the branch's Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon.
"We are going to go fast and leverage the best technology available to get hypersonic capability to the warfighter as soon as possible," Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said in a news release.
The Air Force is using authorization by Section 804 of the FY16 National Defense Authorization Act to develop a possible hypersonic weapon by 2021.
The Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency, Air Force, Navy and Army signed a memorandum of agreement in June to cooperate on hypersonic boost glide technology.
The Air Force's other hypersonic weapon under development is the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon. It has similar technology to the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon but uses different technical approaches.
The ARRW will use the technical base from the Air Force and DARPA partnership on the program. The HCSW will use older older technologies that have not yet been developed into a viable weapons.
Both potential missiles will be designed for high-speed strikes on surface targets in a extremely short timeframe. Other nations such as Russia and China are developing hypersonic missiles.