Boeing X-51 Waverider
Boeing X-51 Waverider

US Navy and Boeing Partner on Future Ramjet Missile Technology

The U.S. Navy and Boeing will demonstrate advanced missile technologies that will make carrier air wing strike fighters more lethal against threats into the next decade. Boeing has been awarded a $30 million contract from the Navy to co-develop the Supersonic Propulsion Enabled Advanced Ramjet (SPEAR) flight demonstrator with the Navy’s Air Warfare Center Weapons Division. The contract award comes after the Department of Defense requested information from the defense industry to help the Navy determine technical requirements of future carrier-based land and sea strike weapons systems.

Boeing and the U.S. Navy Air Warfare Center Weapons Division plan to fly the SPEAR demonstrator in late 2022. Prior successes by Boeing in developing supersonic and hypersonic technologies include the X-51 Waverider test vehicle in 2010 and the Variable Flow Ducted Rocket propulsion system under the Triple Target Terminator program in 2014. A waverider is a hypersonic aircraft design that improves its supersonic lift-to-drag ratio by using the shock waves being generated by its own flight as a lifting surface, a phenomenon known as compression lift.

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The Boeing X-51A WaveRider hypersonic flight test vehicle was uploaded to an Air Force Flight Test Center B-52 for fit testing at Edwards Air Force Base on July 17.
The Boeing X-51A WaveRider hypersonic flight test vehicle was uploaded to an Air Force Flight Test Center B-52 for fit testing at Edwards Air Force Base on July 17.

“The SPEAR flight demonstrator will provide the F/A-18 Super Hornet and carrier strike group with significant improvements in range and survivability against advanced threat defensive systems,” said Steve Mercer, Boeing’s SPEAR program manager. “We have a talented team of engineers to meet the challenging technical demands and schedule timeline that the SPEAR program requires. We look forward to working with Navy experts to advance technologies for the Navy’s future capabilities.”

Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS) is a division (business unit) of The Boeing Company based in Arlington, Virginia. It is responsible for defense and aerospace products and services. It was formerly known as Boeing Integrated Defense Systems (IDS). Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a consolidated group which brought together major names in aerospace; Boeing Military Airplane Company; Hughes Satellite Systems; Hughes Helicopters minus the civilian helicopters products; Piasecki Helicopter, subsequently known as Boeing Vertol and then Boeing Helicopters; the St. Louis-based McDonnell division of the former McDonnell Douglas Company; and the former North American Aviation division of Rockwell International.

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