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US Air Force evaluating three approaches to supersonic executive airlift

Hermeus Mach 5 jet
Photo: Hermeus

Over the past year, the US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Presidential and Executive Airlift team partnered with three separate aviation companies to explore the possibility of supersonic travel.

The different industry efforts underway now could reduce flight times by 50% or more, Brig. Gen. Ryan Britton, Presidential and Executive Airlift program executive officer said on the latest episode of AFLCMC’s Leadership Log podcast.

The idea came about while exploring potential future requirements in executive travel and learning about burgeoning interest in supersonic travel within private business in the United States.

“We were able to identify several opportunities where we could use small-business money with some investments from my portfolio to begin to seed these opportunities for supersonic travel,” Britton said.

To date, the team has partnered with Boom Supersonic in Colorado, Hermeus in Georgia and Exosonic in California. Each company is exploring different aspects or approaches to high-speed travel.

The solution offered by Hermeus even promises an aircraft that could develop an aircraft capable of developing a speed of Mach 5.

“From an Air Force perspective, we would never holistically invest in commercial transport for executive airlift to fly supersonic and do it all ourselves. But if we can pair our investments with what private investors are doing, well then you have a ten to fifteenfold increase in the amount of money available to actually do something that could change the way we do business for executives or military teams,” Britton said.

From a modest $4.5 million Air Force investment teamed with many millions more in private investment, the team is looking to make some huge strides in the near future toward proving out supersonic capability.

“That’s a huge payoff if we are able to make this happen not only for the DoD, but specifically to build the industrial base for the nation,” he said.

Beyond learning about new materials, new engine technology and benefits resulting from research, there could be benefits in military strike or reconnaissance missions as well, he said.

In the video below, Britton talks about his organization’s effort to bring supersonic airlift to the Air Force.