Australian Firm Selected by Pentagon to Build Hypersonic Test Aircraft

Australian Aerospace Company Hypersonix Launch Systems to Develop High-Speed Aircraft for Pentagon’s Hypersonic Testing

The U.S. Department of Defense has selected Hypersonix Launch Systems, an Australian aerospace company, to develop a high-speed aircraft to test hypersonic technologies. The aircraft, called DART AE, will test high-speed platforms, components, sensors, and communication and control systems. According to Hypersonix, DART AE is powered by a hydrogen-fueled scramjet engine and can fly at speeds up to Mach 7.

The Defense Innovation Unit’s Hypersonic and High-Cadence Airborne Testing Capabilities (HyCAT) program aims to alleviate the strain on government test infrastructure by partnering with non-traditional companies. DIU has not disclosed the value of the contract. Testing infrastructure has been a limiting factor in the development of hypersonic technologies, and the Pentagon aims to increase the cadence and fly at least one test per week, with HyCAT being part of that strategy.

DIU also awarded a contract to California-based Fenix Space to build a reusable tow-launch system. The data and analyses resulting from these prototype tests will accelerate the evaluation of potential weapon system concepts, technologies, and mission sets.

The aircraft developed by Hypersonix is scheduled to fly for the first time in early 2024, with HyCAT testing expected to begin in the next 12-18 months.

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