Boeing to Test DARPA’s “Glide Breaker” Hypersonic Interceptor

  • Bureau
  • 11:29 AM, September 12, 2023
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Boeing to Test DARPA’s “Glide Breaker” Hypersonic Interceptor
An artist’s rendering of a hypersonic threat intercept @DARPA

The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA)awarded Boeing $70.6 million to move to the second phase of the “Glide Breaker” hypersonic missile interceptor program.

The contract award comes more than a year after the agency requested proposals for a technology to defend against hypersonic threats.

Boeing will perform computational fluid dynamics analysis, wind tunnel testing and evaluation of aerodynamic jet interaction effects during flight tests.

Phase II will also “develop the technical understanding of jet interactions necessary to enable the design of propulsion control systems for a future operational glide-phase interceptor kill vehicle,” according to program manager Major Nathan Greiner.

Work is expected to be complete by February 2027.

“This phase of the Glide Breaker program will determine how factors like hypersonic airflow and firing jet thrusters to guide the vehicle affect system performance at extreme speed and altitude in a representative digital environment,” said Gil Griffin, executive director of Boeing Phantom Works Advanced Weapons. “We’re operating on the cutting edge of what’s possible in terms of intercepting an extremely fast object in an incredibly dynamic environment.”

Glide Breaker Program

The Glide Breaker program, initiated in 2018, aims to counter high-speed enemy weapons in the upper atmosphere. It utilizes a kill vehicle to intercept and destroy incoming weapons traveling at speeds of at least Mach 5. What sets it apart is its capability to target and engage threats during the glide phase, the longest phase between launch and terminal engagement. Given the speed and agility of hypersonic weapons, DARPA is closely focusing on the interceptor's speed, altitude, jet interactions, and other aspects crucial for countering hypersonic threats.

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