UK Selects Companies for New Domestic Hypersonic Development Framework

The U.K. Ministry of Defence's Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) division has selected 90 companies to participate in the development of the country's first indigenous hypersonic strike weapon. (Image: U.K. MoD)

The U.K. Ministry of Defence (MoD) has selected 90 companies and organizations from across its domestic industry and academic landscape to compete for contracts that will be issued under its new Hypersonic Technologies & Capabilities Development Framework (HTCDF).

MoD Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) first launched the new HTCDF initiative in December 2023  after the government indicated its interested in accelerating the development of a "sovereign" hypersonic strike capability while continuing its ongoing AUKUS related collaboration on hypersonic strike technology in partnership with Australia and the U.S. In a statement confirming its latest progress with the HTCDF program, MoD did not release the full list of 90 organizations selected for the project, however the agency notes that those who were accepted will now be eligible to bid for contracts. The maximum value of the framework across the next seven years is up to £1 billion.

Project delivery has been designed with pace in mind, with the framework adopting mechanisms which align procurement and development objectives, preventing the traditional challenges that impede capability acquisition. The approach to developing an agile route to market is part of a broader drive across MoD to increase the speed of defence procurement.

“We had a fantastic response from those wanting to be part of what is an iconic national endeavour," Team Hypersonics Program Director said in a statement. In an unsettled world, the battlespace is continually evolving, and the U.K. MoD recognizes the need for agility to ensure we can rapidly develop and deliver the capabilities our Armed Forces need to protect our interests and those of our allies.”

The HTCDF has been designed to provide a responsive, agile route to market to facilitate capability realization at pace. Uniquely it will be used to select suppliers to deliver services and supplies to support the research, development and testing of hypersonic technologies right through to a capability.

Intrinsically linked with MoD’s ambition to transform acquisition, the Framework enables focused research to be spirally developed through varying Technical Readiness Levels (TRLs) onwards to a capability. The maturity of the services and supplies provided under the resulting Call Off contracts will be TRL 1 – 9.

Alongside established weapons manufacturers and academic institutions, nearly half of the suppliers will be Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), the vast majority of which are based in the U.K. This diverse supply base will enable MoD to leverage the strength and breadth of U.K. and international talent and innovation across the defence enterprise.

“Hypersonics will be a landmark capability of the future and it is essential we keep pace with the developments of our adversaries. The Framework sends a clear demand signal to U.K. industry of our intention to develop hypersonics, which is critical for the nearly 50 percent of the suppliers which will be Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs),” James Cartlidge, Minister for Defence Procurement, said in a statement.

The HTCDF will also re-open to new suppliers every 6 to 12 months to ensure that MoD can continue to draw upon new technologies and emerging market capabilities. Opportunities to join the Framework will be advertised on the U.K. MoD Defence Sourcing Portal (DSP).