Northrop, Lockheed, Raytheon selected to develop U.S. hypersonic defense -document By Reuters

Northrop, Lockheed, Raytheon selected to develop U.S. hypersonic defense -document By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Lockheed Martin name is seen on a missile casing at the Farnborough Airshow, in Farnborough, Britain July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

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By Mike Stone

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon (NYSE:) have been selected to research and develop a missile system for the Pentagon that would be able to defend against a hypersonic weapons attack, according to a Pentagon document.

The three companies have won separate contracts totaling about $60 million to develop a glide phase interceptor that would be guided by a constellation of satellites and sensors to intercept a hypersonic missile inside Earth’s atmosphere as it glides towards its target, the document said.

The Missile Defense Agency 2022 budget earmarked $136 million for research, development, testing and evaluation for the glide phase interceptor, but the program will ultimately yield billions of dollars of revenue for defense contractors. The United States and its global rivals have intensified their drive to build hypersonic weapons – the next generation of arms that fly at high speeds. As a result hypersonic arms require quicker defenses and require new systems to defeat them. Often the Pentagon runs competitions for arms or defense contracts in an effort to get the best quality product at the best price for the taxpayer. Many of the competitions are phased so that the technology can mature and inferior offerings are weeded out along the way. Earlier this fall a defense official said the Missile Defense Agency was working with industry and hoped to have awards by the end of the calendar year. There was a broad expectation the Missile Defense Agency would select two companies to proceed. The inclusion of a third competitor underscores the Missile Defense Agency’s desire to incentivize industry to perform research and develop around this new class of weapon. Arms makers Lockheed Martin Corp (NYSE:), Northrop Grumman Corp (NYSE:) and Raytheon Technologies (NYSE:) Corp all touted their hypersonic weapons programs at the top of their quarterly earnings calls recently as an anticipated source of profits in the future.

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