Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC)
HAWC Missile Concept Drawing
TypeHypersonic air-launched cruise missile
Place of originUnited States
Service history
In serviceIn development
Used byUnited States
Production history
WarheadNone (uses its own kinetic energy upon impact to destroy the target, see Kinetic energy weapon)

>300 nmi (350 mi; 560 km)
Flight altitude>60,000 ft (11 mi; 18 km)
Maximum speed >Mach 5 (3,800 mph; 6,100 km/h)
B-52 Stratofortress

The Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC, pronounced "hawk") is a scramjet powered hypersonic air-launched cruise missile project at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA),[1] that had a successful hypersonic flight announced in September 2021.[2][3] It is a kinetic energy weapon, without an explosive warhead.[4]

The scramjet propelled the missile at "a speed greater than Mach 5" (about 3,300 miles per hour).[2]

The first successful flight was in September 2021.[5] Further testing was carried out in mid-March 2022, but was kept secret at the time to avoid the impression of escalation against Russia during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.[4] The existence of the test was revealed in early April 2022.[4]

Principal Director for Hypersonics Mike White stated that HAWC would be smaller than hypersonic glide vehicles and could therefore launch from a wider range of platforms. White additionally noted that HAWC could integrate seekers more easily. DARPA requested $60 million for MoHAWC, the successor program to HAWC, in FY2023.[6]

On 18 July 2022, the third successful flight test of the HAWC was reported by DARPA - the missile was able to fly at (3,300 mph; 5,300 km/h) speed at the altitude of more than 60,000 ft (11 mi; 18 km) for more than 300 nautical miles (350 mi; 560 km).[7]

On 30 January 2023, the final successful flight test of the HAWC was reported by DARPA and Lockheed Martin - like its previous flight test, the missile was able to fly at (3,300 mph; 5,300 km/h ) speed at the altitude of more than 60,000 ft (11 mi; 18 km) for more than 300 nautical miles (350 mi; 560 km), and demonstrated improved performances and capabilities. DARPA plans to further these technological improvements through More Opportunities with HAWC program (MOHAWC).[8][9][10]

Technology developed for the HAWC demonstrator was used to influence the design of the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile (HACM), a U.S. Air Force Program of Record to create a scramjet-powered hypersonic missile it could deploy as an operational weapon.[11] The contract to develop HACM further was awarded to Raytheon in September 2022.[12] HACM will use a Northrop Grumman scramjet.[13][14]


  1. ^ "Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC)". DARPA.mil. Retrieved May 6, 2023.
  2. ^ a b "DARPA'S Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) Achieves Successful Flight". Darpa.mil. Retrieved January 9, 2022.
  3. ^ Andrew Knoedler. "Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC)". Darpa.mil. Retrieved January 9, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c Oren Liebermann (5 April 2022). "US tested hypersonic missile in mid-March but kept it quiet to avoid escalating tensions with Russia". CNN. Retrieved 2022-04-05.
  5. ^ "US conducts second successful HAWC hypersonic test". FlightGobal. Retrieved 2022-04-05.
  6. ^ Kelley M. Sayler (5 May 2022). "Hypersonic Weapons: Background and Issues for Congress" (PDF). Congressional Research Service. Retrieved 21 June 2022.
  7. ^ "Third Test Flight for DARPA's HAWC Yields New Performance Data". DARPA. 18 July 2022. Retrieved 19 July 2022.
  8. ^ "Missile hypersonique américain HAWC". Air et Cosmos (in French). 2023-01-31. Retrieved 2023-01-31.
  9. ^ "Final Flight of HAWC Program Screams Through the Sky". DARPA.mil. Retrieved May 6, 2023.
  10. ^ "Hypersonic Air-Breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC), USA". Airforce Technology. Retrieved 2024-02-11.
  11. ^ Successful HAWC Test Doesn’t End DARPA’s Hypersonic Scramjet Efforts. Air Force Magazine. 22 July 2022.
  12. ^ "Raytheon wins $985M contract to develop hypersonic missiles". news.yahoo.com. 2022-09-22.
  13. ^ "Raytheon/Northrop Grumman team selected for HACM hypersonic weapon". Janes.com. Retrieved 2024-02-14.
  14. ^ "US Air Force Selects Raytheon Missiles & Defense, Northrop Grumman to Deliver First Hypersonic Air-Breathing Missile". Northrop Grumman Newsroom. Retrieved 2024-02-14.