Delivering hypersonic capabilities presents another challenge: The U.S. military wants them faster than traditional acquisition processes would allow.
“Threats are advancing at such a pace that previous timelines don’t support what the warfighter needs, which are high-speed, long-range weapons to execute missions,” said John W. Otto, senior director of Advanced Hypersonic Weapons at Raytheon Missiles & Defense.
For that reason, Raytheon Technologies has adopted digital engineering methods, including building digital twins, or virtual replicas, and using modeling and simulation to gather predictive analytics.
“Working in a digital environment allows us to eliminate testing, which is time-consuming and costly,” Otto said. “The more advanced the digital models, the quicker we can get systems fielded.”
Modeling and simulation relies on the fidelity of test data, which will improve with increased testing and sharing of data with industry partners, academia and allied nations.
Raytheon Technologies is working with the University of Arizona, Texas A&M University, Purdue University, the U.S. Air Force Academy and other academic institutions on hypersonic research and testing, to include the use of wind tunnels to emulate flight conditions and accelerate development.
“Collaborating with universities brings people and ideas together and helps lay the foundation for upcoming work,” Otto said. “We also have an opportunity to shape the minds of our future workforce.”
The university partnerships are helping create training curriculum, including applied research and new degree and certification programs, to develop future hypersonic engineers.
Sharing expertise, funding and infrastructure is critical to address current and future threats, Otto said.
“We were the first to successfully test HAWC, so we’re making a lot of progress … flying systems and learning from those activities, and that’s helping us further improve our systems,” Otto said.