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The Air Force invests millions at startup in an attempt to build a reusable hypersonic aircraft

The company’s TBCC power plant includes the General Electric J85 turbojet engine used in the T-38 Talon jet trainer and will be validated on Quarter Horse aircraft. Three of them are planned. These unmanned testers are approximately 40 feet long and have a wingspan of 10 feet.The first test flight Be expected In just 18 months.

According to the terms of the Air Force contract, Ermeus will need to conduct flight tests on a reusable hypersonic propulsion system and then develop, manufacture, and test three Quarter Horse Concept aircraft over a three-year period. .. In addition, the company will “provide a payload integration guide for future supersonic flight tests with Quarterhorse” and “wargaming inputs for use in the Air Force’s strategic analysis tools.”

“When it comes to technology, we often hear the phrase’change the game’,” said Maj. Gen. Heather Pringle, commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory. Press release From the service. “But hypersonic aircraft and propulsion systems are truly game-changing and will revolutionize the way we travel, just like cars of the last century. Participate in this effort and this important technology. I am happy to be able to support the promotion of. “

If successful, Quarterhorse could provide a “foothold for a more intermediate product,” said Skyler Shuford, one of the founders and current chief operating officer of Hermeus. Defense One.. The company then wants to embark on a larger airliner that can whip up paid passengers across the Atlantic Ocean and take presidents and senior officials to meetings at record speeds.

The awarding of the contract is AFWERX Innovation Initiative, A technology incubator established by the Air Force in 2017 to harness commercial technology for the benefit of the military. Specifically, the budget will be made available through the Strategic Financing (STRATFI) program led by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. President and Administrative Air Transport Bureau.. The latter organization is responsible for the acquisition and support of the Air Force’s current and next-generation VIP aircraft. Next Air Force One.. NS Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is also involved in funding the Hermeus contract.

The latest contract will be almost exactly one year after the previous Air Force Phase II SBIR contract, Equivalent to $ 1.5 million, Awarded After the company successfully tested a prototype of the Mach 5 engine in February 2020, it went to Elmeus to continue working on hypersonic travel.

According to the Air Force, both contracts are part of a broader effort to “promote the fast-growing commercial resurgence of high-speed passenger travel” led by the President and the Government’s Air Transportation Authority, called the Vector Initiative.Not only Hermeus, but also the presidential and executive airlift teams Boom supersonic When ExosonicFor the purpose of exploring the various possibilities of high-speed travel.

“SME partnerships are recognized by the US Air Force as a key driver of innovation,” said Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Berger, Vector Initiative Program Manager. “Reducing the risk of high-speed transportation technology, as we do in this contract, will bring short-term and long-term benefits to both the US Air Force and the defense industry base. Hermeus has been demonstrated in engine prototyping. It’s very exciting to see the success transformed into a flight system. “

As part of that, Hermeus says she is confident that the relatively small amount of $ 60 million is sufficient to test the TBCC engine “over the entire flight range.” The company states that it will achieve this ambition by “utilizing autonomous, reusable systems, relentlessly focused requirements, and hardware-rich programs,” but did not provide details. Hmm. Not only is the Quarter Horse unmanned, but at least some of the specimens or their components are expected to be consumables. test. “

Ultimately, the goal is to run a high-risk test program that can be put together more quickly and reduce the overall cost of the program.

After the Quarter Horse aircraft proved TBCC engine technology, the company hopes it can be further developed for both commercial and military applications, or what the company calls “dual-use space for supersonic technology.” .. So far, Hermeus has talked about her ambition to fly a passenger plane from New York to London at Mach 5, or about 3,000 mph, in just 90 minutes.Despite these rapid global connectivity promises, there are still sonic boom issues and noise issues that have seen commercial bans. Supersonic flight on landIntroduced in the 1970s.

“This partnership with the US Air Force underscores the Pentagon’s interest in hypersonic aircraft when combined with Hermeus.” Partnership with NASA Announced in February 2021, it’s clear that what we’re building is both commercial and defense applications, “said Hermeus, CEO and co-founder of AJPiplica.

For the Air Force, presidential and administrative airlift missions are at the forefront of interest in reusable hypersonic aircraft, but the same technology, especially the TBCC engine, could be used for other purposes. it is clear. .. The Air Force invests millions at startup in an attempt to build a reusable hypersonic aircraft

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