Oct. 15 (UPI) -- The Pentagon established a Joint Hypersonics Transition Office Systems Engineering Field Activity at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Ind., on Thursday.
Mark Lewis, acting deputy under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, and JHTO director Gillian Bussey announced the opening in a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony with Gov. Eric Holcomb, according to the Department of Defense.
"The JHTO and its Systems Engineering Field Activity present a signature opportunity for the Department," Lewis said. "Leveraging the capabilities at NSWC Crane, we can not only develop effective hypersonic technologies, but we can also develop them affordably at the speed of relevance to our warfighters. Proactive engineering for affordable upgrades is critical to the long-term sustainability of these systems."
NWSC Crane was recently awarded contracts to advance its hypersonics testing and verification capabilities -- including a $150 million award for an underwater launch test complex and a missile technology evaluation facility.
According to the Pentagon, more than 300 people are working to advance hypersonic technologies at NSWC Crane.
"NSWC Crane has become a critical hub in the hypersonics development ecosystem," said Rick Davidoff, acting director of the JHTO systems engineering field activity.
"This exciting announcement is the culmination of the hard work and dedication of many people," Davidoff said. "The JHTO Field Activity at Crane will allow OSD to leverage earlier and ongoing investments at Crane to help all three Services improve their hypersonic weapons with more rapid, adaptable, and modular upgrades. Indiana and the larger Midwest will have a long-term, critical role in this important national security mission."
Earlier this week Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said a U.S. hypersonic missile test struck within six inches of a target after traveling thousands of miles at Mach 5 or faster.
The Pentagon announcement follows Russia's announcement last week of the successful test-firing of its Zircon hypersonic missile, which it said struck a target 300 miles away after traveling at over 6,100 mph.