Northrop Grumman Unveils Hypersonic Weapons Campaign

The aerospace company aims to be a leader in the new weapons market.

Northrop Grumman is positioning itself—brazenly—as the U.S. government’s go-to contractor for hypersonic weapons.

The company unveiled a campaign website focused on defense against the cutting-edge weaponry as part of a larger push to claim leadership in the new hyperpsonic weapons market. The Department of Defense has made the development of those technologies a priority.

Northrop has identified a gap in hypersonic defense development, which the company claims is lagging significantly behind hypersonic offence—and an opportunity to respond to that need.

“What we’re hearing from our customer is: ‘we want to reach out and touch [enemy hypersonic weapons] as far forward into the battlespace, giving the war fighter as much battlespace as possible,’” said Kenn Todorov, Vice President of missile defense solutions and Northrop’s lead for counter-hypersonic weapons development. “This threat spends most of its time in the glide phase, and I think that’s where we want to reach out and touch it.”

Northrop’s Kenn Todorov discusses hypersonic weapon defense.

Northrop’s anti-hypersonic strategy consists of four components. First is a space-based sensor layer to detect the weapons as early as possible. Second are kinetic interceptors based designed to counter them in both the terminal and glide phases. Third, the kinetic weapons would be complemented by cyber, electronic warfare and directed energy weapons. And fourth, a sophisticated command-and-control system would coordinate and deploy the technologies to intercept those weapons.

Initial focus would be on developing the space layer, with the other systems to be built off Northrop technologies that either exist or are in development already.

This isn’t the first time the company has been aggressive about using marketing campaigns to pursue defense contract dollars. In 2014, after the Air Force asked competitors on the Long Range Strike Bomber program to go about their business quietly, Northrop launched an advertising blitz in print, radio and television. While the decision angered some in the Air Force, they still awarded the company the contract—resulting in the B-21 bomber. Northrop hopes the tactic will result in another win for the company.

“We’re investing a lot of our own resources to give us a leg up and to do some things so we’ll be ready, forward-looking as opposed to reactionary,” said Todorov. “We clearly are anticipating that those numbers will come, and we want to be ready for them and be out front when we do so we’ll be well-positioned.”

Read more about developments in hypersonic weapons technology at DARPA Awards Raytheon a $63.3 Million Contract for Hypersonic Weapons Research.