U.S. Air Force To Develop Hypersonic Military Aircraft For VIP Passenger Transport

U.S. Air Force To Develop Hypersonic Military Aircraft For VIP Passenger Transport
Credits: Hermeus

The Hermeus Corporation aerospace company has announced that it partnered with the U.S. Air Force and the Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate to support its work on a hypersonic aircraft powered by an advanced combined-cycle jet engine. The service says that the deal could be a stepping stone to fielding a high-speed plane for VIP transport and other missions in the future.

Hermeus announced that it had secured the contract on Aug. 6, 2020, through AFWERX, a technology incubator the U.S. Air Force stood up in 2017. The deal is worth approximately $1.5 million and will focus on exploring design concepts for a business jet-sized hypersonic executive transport aircraft capable of seating between nine and 19 passengers, Steve Trimble, Aviation Week’s Defense Editor, added in a Tweet.

The effort is focused on rapidly assessing modifications to Hermeus Mach 5 aircraft to support the Presidential and Executive Airlift fleet.

Early integration of unique Air Force requirements for high-speed mobility and evaluation of interfaces between high-speed aircraft and existing communications, airport, and air traffic control infrastructure lays the groundwork for a seamless transition to service.

Additionally, Hermeus will prepare test plans to reduce the technical risk associated with these modifications to support Air Force requirements.

Brigadier General Ryan Britton, Program Executive Officer for Presidential and Executive Airlift commented on the program: “Leaps in capability are vital as we work to complicate the calculus of our adversaries.

By leveraging commercial investment to drive new technologies into the Air Force, we are able to maximize our payback on the Department of Defense investments.

The Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate is proud to support Hermeus in making this game-changing capability a reality as we look to recapitalize the fleet in the future.”

Preceding the award, the Hermeus team designed from scratch, built, and successfully tested a Mach 5 engine prototype, in only 9 months. The test campaign both served as risk reduction for Hermeus’ turbine-based combined cycle engine architecture and illustrates the team’s ability to execute with schedule and funding efficiency. “Using our pre-cooler technology, we’ve taken an off-the-shelf gas turbine engine and operated it at flight speed conditions faster than the famed SR-71. In addition, we’ve pushed the ramjet mode to Mach 4-5 conditions, demonstrating full-range hypersonic air-breathing propulsion capability,” said Glenn Case, Hermeus’ CTO.

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