A rendering of a hypersonic vehicle. Rendering courtesy of General Atomics.

A rendering of a hypersonic vehicle. Rendering courtesy of General Atomics.

The following are selected defense contracts awarded to San Diego County companies in September. The U.S. Department of Defense releases a digest of contract awards daily at 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

The U.S. Army awarded La Jolla-based General Atomics a $41.8 million contract related to its Hypersonics Technology Demonstration Program.

The deal calls for GA to provide program support, engineering design, analysis and test support for critical test events in support of the Advanced Hypersonic Weapons Technology Demonstrator.

The Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama awarded the deal, announced on Sept. 30. Work will be done in Huntsville, Alabama and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

GA issued a statement Oct. 1 saying it was supporting the Army in developing a prototype of a hypersonic glide body.

“As new threats continue to emerge, advancing the development and flight testing of hypersonic vehicle prototypes has become an urgent priority,” said Scott Forney, president of General Atomics’ Electromagnetic Systems business in Rancho Bernardo.

“Over the past 13 years, we have worked closely with the Army and Sandia National Laboratories to design, manufacture and test hypersonic glide body components and technologies. We look forward to leveraging that expertise as this critical capability transitions out of the lab and into a production-ready asset to support the war fighter.”

Hypersonic weapons travel at Mach 5 or faster. Mach 5 is five times the speed of sound, or approximately 3,750 mph at sea level. The Congressional Research Service reports that they come in two forms. They may be gliders launched from a rocket. Alternately, they may be cruise missiles with air-breathing engines. By flying low, such weapons can evade enemy radar better than ballistic missiles. Russia and China plan to field hypersonic weapons as early as 2020.

GA has also done work on U.S. military railgun prototypes, which fire projectiles at very high speeds.

GA Aeronautical Pulls in Army Work

An affiliate of General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. of Poway, received a $9 million contract modification from the U.S. Army to convert nine Hunter Universal Ground Control stations. Work will be done in Poway and is expected to last through April. The U.S. Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama awarded the deal, announced on Sept. 30.