UK Awards £1 Billion for Hypersonic Missile Development

UK Awards £1 Billion for Hypersonic Missile Development

United Kingdom Awards £1 Billion for Hypersonic Missile Development hypersonic missile technology over the next seven years. The UK Ministry of Defence’s procurement organization announced the massive hypersonics industrial base on Monday.

“Hypersonics will be a landmark capability of the future and it is essential we keep pace with the developments of our adversaries,” said Defence Procurement Minister James Cartlidge. The program aims to rapidly field advanced hypersonic missile capabilities for Britain.

Hypersonic Arms Race

Hypersonic missiles, capable of flying at over 5 times the speed of sound, pose a major challenge to existing missile defenses due to their blistering speed and maneuverability. The United States, France, China and Russia are all racing to develop and field hypersonic weapons.

A UK government report in July highlighted the threat, stating “The speed and maneuverability of hypersonic missiles could potentially deliver conventional or nuclear payloads and challenge existing missile defence concepts.”

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The £1 billion framework will focus on rapidly transitioning hypersonic research into fieldable capabilities in an accelerated timeframe to avoid “traditional challenges that impede capability acquisition.”

UK Hypersonics Industrial Base

Around half of the 90 selected suppliers are small and medium-sized enterprises, with most based in the UK. In addition to established defense primes, the program will tap into commercial innovation and emerging tech startups.

The framework allows new suppliers to join every 6-12 months to ensure access to the latest technologies. It covers the full research, development, testing and production pipeline for hypersonic systems.

The aim is to facilitate collaboration across industry, academia and the UK military to deliver an integrated national industrial base for hypersonic weapons. This secure domestic supply chain is seen as vital for a strategic capability like hypersonics.

European Hypersonic Efforts

Separately, Norwegian and German missile makers are partnering on a new supersonic strike missile called 3SM Tyrfing. Kongsberg is leading the team with Diehl and MBDA to develop an advanced, long-range supersonic missile for the two nations.

The European Union is also funding two hypersonic interceptor programs Hydis2 led by MBDA and Hydef by Sener and Diehl to counter the hypersonic threat.

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