US steps up hypersonic development

By Monitoring Desk
Friday – October 16, 2020
ARLINGTON (United States): On Thursday, the United States (US) department of defence (DoD) established its joint hyper-sonics transition office (JHTO) systems engineering field activity (SEFA) at the naval surface warfare centre (NSWC).

According to press releases, the US DoD acting deputy under secretary (ADUS) for research and engineering (RE) Mark Lewis, and JHTO director Gillian Bussey, announced the JHTO-SEFA opening, in a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony with governor Eric Holcomb.

Through this partnership, located in Crane, Indiana, the US DoD can leverage the growing suite of government, industry, and academic leaders associated with NSWC Crane.

“The JHTO and its SEFA present a signature opportunity for the US DoD, leveraging the capabilities at NSWC Crane, we can develop effective ‘hypersonic technologies,’ also affordably at the speed of relevance to our warfighters” adding “Proactive engineering for affordable upgrades is critical to the long-term sustainability of these systems,” US DoD ADUS-RE Lewis said.

The NSWC Crane has previously received recent US DoD hyper-sonics awards to advance testing, verification and validation capabilities, this includes $150 million in unique capabilities such as an underwater launch test complex, a missile technology evaluation facility, an integrated hardware-in-the-loop (HWIL) / software-in-the-loop (SWIL) test bed, and a modelling and simulation lab.

More than three hundred people at Crane are working to advance hypersonic technologies and enabling capabilities to make them possible.

“NSWC Crane has become a critical hub in the hyper-sonics development ecosystem,” JHTO-SEFA acting director (AD) Rick Davidoff said.

“This exciting announcement is the culmination of the hard work and dedication of many people, the JHTO-SEFA at Crane will allow office of the secretary of defence (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 Mid-west will have a long-term, critical role in this important national security mission,” he added.

The JHTO, headquartered at the Pentagon, was established by congressional direction and its authorities were renewed in the fiscal year (FY) 2020 national defence authorisation act (NDAA).

The JHTO is responsible for creating strategies and roadmaps to develop hypersonic technologies and transition them to operational capabilities, for coordinating with foreign allies and partners, and for bolstering the hyper-sonics workforce.

Additionally, it is establishing a university consortium for applied hyper-sonics to leverage the nation’s academic community towards hyper-sonics related research and workforce development. 

The JHTO-SEFA at Crane will perform detailed engineering activities to help execute the JHTO’s mandate.

The SEFA will coordinate architectures, interfaces, schedules, and plans to transition a more modular, affordable, and upgradable hyper-sonics portfolio of capabilities and technologies.

The SEFA has four engineering focus areas: system architectures and guidelines, science and technology management, transition management, and modelling and simulation.

The SEFA will also execute some workforce development initiatives, including sponsored research, curriculum development, and engagements with industry to create a growing pipeline of highly technical talent to enter the hyper-sonics workforce.

Earlier, in Russia on October 7, 2020, The Russian chief of the general staff (CGS) Valery Gerasimov informed the Russian president Vladimir Putin that at 7:15 am on Tuesday, the frigate Admiral Gorshkov deployed in the White Sea, for the first time fired a ‘Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile’ at a sea target in the Barents Sea, the goal was achieved, the test firing was successful, the missile destroyed the target in a direct hit, the missile covered a distance of 450 kilometres (kms) and the flight lasted for 4.5 minutes (mins).

The maximum altitude of its trajectory was 28 kms and the missile reached the hypersonic speed of over mach 8.

Following the state tests, the Tsirkon system will be deployed in submarines and surface ships, Russian CGS Gerasimov concluded.

Russian president Putin responded that the Tsirkon project and the stage you have reported — the successful test flight of the missile — are a major event not only for the armed forces but also for the nation as a whole.

He said that supplying our armed forces — the army and the navy — with the most advanced armaments that have no analogues in the world will reliably ensure national defences for a long time to come.

Russian president Putin admired that the success of this project, as we are well aware, is the result of the hard work of our scientists, engineers, talented workers and military professionals and that it is an important stage in the provision of advanced armaments to our armed forces.

“I would like to congratulate all those who have been involved in the Tsirkon project. I would like to thank the defence minister and you, CGS Gerasimov. I know that you not only act as the customer but are also directly involved in the creation of such systems,” he appreciated.

Russian president Putin concluded, “I would like to thank you for a job well done and to express the hope that all specialists involved in the rearmament projects will continue to work effectively and persistently, as they always do” adding “Once again, I would like to congratulate you on this event and to wish you success in your future endeavours.”