On August 5, Hermeus announced signing a USD 60 million U.S. Air Force follow-up partnership for flight-testing its first aircraft, Quarterhorse.
Initially, Hermeus landed a U.S. Air Force contract for the initial development of a hypersonic business jet for presidential travel. The new partnership complements an earlier partnership with NASA, announced back in February 2021.
Hermeus aims to transform global human transportation with Mach 5 aircraft. Quarterhorse will be the fastest reusable aircraft in the world, designed to fly at a top speed of Mach 5.5, equivalent to 6790 km/h. At more than five times the speed of sound, flights from New York to London will take no more than 90 minutes!
The Quarterhorse’s unique engine…
The Quarterhorse will be the first aircraft of its kind to fly a turbine-based combined cycle (TBCC) engine. Its engine is based on the GE J85 turbojet, modified to reach hypersonic speeds.
TBCC propulsion systems use standard jet engines for launch and landing. They also use standard jet engines to build enough speed in flight to feed air into a ramjet/ scramjet, a second turbine. A ramjet produces more power but requires high-speed airflow to start. The smooth transition between turbines to achieve optimal aerodynamics is key to achieve successful hypersonic flight.
The Quarterhorse’s projected timeline…
Hermeus emphasized its plans to take a dual military/ civil path for the development of Quarterhorse, confident about the commercial and defense applications for their aircraft in the making.
Hermeus has already designed, built, and began testing Quarterhorse’s engine. With metal already cut for the vehicle, Hermeus plans to build the hypersonic jet at its new factory in Atlanta.
The company plans to test an unmanned small-scale version of the Quarterhorse in 2023. In 2025, Hermeus plans to test a larger cargo-carrying version, with a longer range and a more capable environmental control.
The company will then progress toward a 20-seat passenger aircraft, targeted for FAA certification in 2029.
Supersonic flights are indeed just around the corner. Will hypersonic flights follow by 2030?
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