As the pace of hypersonic weapons development continues to accelerate Raytheon has been selected by the U.S. Defense Agency Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop and test a Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) weapon – a roughly 500-nm-range unpowered vehicle accelerated to hypersonic speed by a rocket booster.

Raytheon is already under contract with DARPA to develop the Hypersonic Air-Breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC), an air-launched, scramjet-powered missile demonstrator. The most recent selection pits Raytheon into another head-to-head contest with Lockheed Martin, which is also under contract to DARPA to develop competing TBG and HAWC demonstrators. Lockheed’s TBG and HAWC vehicles are both scheduled to fly in 2019.

The work for both companies comes as the Pentagon ramps up hypersonic weapons contracts and studies across the board to counter aggressively paced high-speed weapons systems developments in China and Russia. So far, Lockheed appears to have taken the lion’s share of active operational development contracts with work underway on the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon, a prototype hypersonic strike missile, as well as the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon. Lockheed has also recently won a U.S. Navy deal to develop a hypersonic booster, thought to be linked to the TBG.

Raytheon, meanwhile, is tight-lipped about the details of the boost-glide work. “We are in negotiations with them to close that contract,” says Tom Bussing, vice president of advanced missile systems for Raytheon’s Missile Systems unit.