Hermeus has signed a $60 million U.S. Air Force partnership for the flight testing of its first Mach 5 aircraft – ‘Quarterhorse’.
The firm say that Quarterhorse will validate the company’s proprietary turbine-based combined cycle (TBCC) engine, based around the GE J85 turbojet engine, and is the first in a line of autonomous high-speed aircraft.
By the end of the flight test campaign say the firm, Quarterhorse will be the fastest reusable aircraft in the world and the first of its kind to fly a TBCC engine.
Additionally, the firm say that the award was made under the AFWERX Strategic Funding Increase (STRATFI) program led by the U.S. Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate (PE) as a follow-on to a Phase II SBIR contract.
The collaboration also includes support from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).
“Small business partnership is recognized by the U.S. Air Force as an important component to driving innovation. Reducing risk in high speed transport technologies, as we are doing with this contract, provides near-term and long-term benefits to both the U.S. Air Force and the defense industrial base” said Lt. Col. Joshua Burger, the Vector Initiative program manager who is spearheading the effort.
“We are very excited to see Hermeus translate their demonstrated successes in engine prototyping into flight systems.”