US Air Force awards contract to Hermeus for hypersonic aircraft and work on propulsion system

by Pat Host

The U.S. Air Force (USAF) on July 30 awarded Hermeus a $ 60 million contract to accelerate commercial development of hypersonic aircraft and propulsion systems, according to a service statement.

The Quarterhorse will validate Hermeus’ proprietary Combined Cycle Turbine Engine (TBCC), based on the General Electric J85 turbojet propulsion system. Hermeus calls the Quarterhorse the first in a line of high-speed autonomous aircraft.

A render of the Hermeus Quarterhorse aircraft that will validate the company’s proprietary turbine combined cycle engine. On July 30, the U.S. Air Force awarded the company a jointly funded $ 60 million contract to accelerate commercial development of hypersonic aircraft and propulsion systems. (Hermée)

Hermeus aims to flight test its TBCC engine across the entire flight envelope for less than $ 100 million by taking a different approach from those used in traditional high-speed flight test programs. Hermeus will take advantage of stand-alone, reusable systems, “ruthless” targeted requirements and a hardware-rich program.

Skyler Shuford, Founder and COO of Hermeus, said
on August 5 that the Quarterhorse’s only two design requirements are to achieve Mach5 and be reusable. Hermeus essentially builds the simplest aircraft that can flight test its engine, he said. The company will be building multiple Quarterhorse iterations, which Shuford says will allow it to strategically decide whether it wants to aggressively push the boundaries of learning, potentially to failure, as it will have more attempts with subsequent planes.

Hermeus is developing the Quarterhorse to serve as a test platform for the modified J85. Hermeus believes the Quarterhorse will be the fastest aircraft to fly when built, and Shuford said the company aims to begin flight testing of the Quarterhorse in late 2022.

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