Pentagon chooses Australian firm to build hypersonic test aircraft.
By Courtney Albon
The U.S. Department of Defence selected Hypersonix Launch Systems, an Australian aerospace company, to develop a high-speed aircraft that can test hypersonic technologies.
The aircraft will support a Defence Innovation Unit program called Hypersonic and High-Cadence Airborne Testing Capabilities, or HyCAT. The organization, which works to push technology from non-traditional companies to military users, is partnering with the Defence Department Test Resource Management Centre and the director of hypersonics to help alleviate strain on government test infrastructure.
“The HyCAT project represents a paradigm shift in viewing the hypersonic realm as a place for aircraft, not just missiles and weapons.”
DIU gave no value for the contract. Hypersonix did not immediately respond to a request for details.
The aircraft developed by Hypersonix, dubbed DART AE, will test high-speed platforms, components, sensors and communications and control systems. According to the company, DART AE is powered by a hydrogen-fuelled scramjet engine and can fly at speeds up to Mach 7. The aircraft is scheduled to fly for the first time in early 2024, and HyCAT testing is expected to begin in the next 12-18 months.
“The data and analyses resulting from these prototype tests will accelerate the evaluation of potential weapon system concepts, technologies and mission sets,” DIU said.
Along with the initial HyCAT awards, the agency said it expects to issue more contracts in the coming months for advanced materials to support prototype tests.