US Navy awards Lockheed Martin $2 billion hypersonic missile contract

The company will provide the US's first sea-based hypersonic strike capability.
Chris Young
An artist's impression of the CPS weapons system.
An artist's impression of the CPS weapons system.

Lockheed Martin 

The US Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a contract worth between $1.1-2 billion to install Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) hypersonic missile launchers on the US Navy's three Zumwalt-class destroyers.

Under the contract's terms, Lockheed Martin will aim to install the hypersonic missiles by around 2025.

The Navy's Zumwalt-class destroyers have faced numerous issues since they first came into operation last decade, so the new contract could help them finally live up to the moniker of the "21st-century destroyer".

The Zumwalt-class destroyer gets hypersonic capabilities

The Zumwalt class destroyer was conceived as a state-of-the-art multi-mission stealth warship that could support land operations, secure open water areas, and act as an anti-aircraft vessel.

Unfortunately, as NewAtlas points out, the Zumwalt project was plagued by production delays and cost overruns that saw the price per ship rise to a staggering $8 billion. Including the launch of the USS Zumwalt in 2016, only three out of a planned 32 Zumwalt warships were built.

The new Lockheed Martin project may be part of a US Navy initiative to breathe new life into the Zumwalt project. The Zumwalt class will become the first to carry the CPS surface-launched, sea-based hypersonic strike missiles. These missiles can fly at a massive speed of Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound.

"Hypersonic vehicles or hypersonic missiles can travel faster than five times the speed of sound and are highly maneuverable," Lockheed Martin explained in a press statement. "The combination of the CPS capability, and the stealth and mobility of the ZUMWALT-class destroyer, will provide the nation's first sea-based hypersonic strike capability."

Hypersonic missiles to "protect America at sea"

Under the contract, Lockheed and subcontractors Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics Mission Systems will provide the launcher systems, weapon control, platform integration, and All Up Rounds (AURs), meaning the integrated missile components for the destroyer class.

"Lockheed Martin continues to advance hypersonic strike capability for the United States through this new contract," said Steve Layne, vice president of Hypersonic Strike Weapon Systems at Lockheed Martin. "Early design work is already underway. Our team looks forward to supporting the warfighter by providing more options to further protect America at sea."

Source: Lockheed Martin

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