The US Air Force and the Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate have awarded Hermeus Corporation, an aerospace company developing Mach 5 commercial aircraft, a contract for work on a hypersonic jet for the Air Force One.
This award comes under an “other transaction for prototype agreement direct to phase II contract” through the air force’s AFWERX innovation program after Hermeus successfully tested a Mach 5 engine prototype in February 2020.
As explained by the company, the effort is focused on rapidly assessing modifications to the Hermeus aircraft that would allow it to support the Presidential and Executive Airlift fleet. Hermeus says that early integration of air force requirements would lay the groundwork for a seamless transition to service. The company added it would prepare test plans to reduce technical risk associated with these modifications to support the requirements.
“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 Department of Defense investments,” Brigadier General Ryan Britton, Program Executive Officer for Presidential and Executive Airlift commented on the program. “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.
“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.