A joint programme to deliver significant enhancements to UK defence capabilities through the development of innovative hypersonic technologies has been created.
Reaction Engines, Rolls-Royce, the Royal Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO), the UK Government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the UK’s National Security Strategic Investment Fund (NSSIF) will build on the pioneering high-speed propulsion technologies and extensive research and development capabilities of the partners, the Hypersonic Air Vehicle Experimental (HVX) Programme – which aims to establish the UK as a leader in reusable hypersonic air systems.
Supported by funding from NSSIF, an agile project team has been established to rapidly develop critical high-Mach/hypersonic technologies, including novel air-breathing propulsion architectures, innovative thermal management systems and advanced vehicle concepts. In addition, a full-scale experimental engine test campaign has now commenced.
HVX’s immediate objective is to rapidly mature technologies which can deliver a step-change reduction in the cost of developing a reusable high-Mach/hypersonic air vehicle. Reaction Engines’ novel precooler and SABRE combined-cycle engine technologies are key foundations for the Programme. In combination with Rolls-Royce’s world-beating gas turbine technology, this brings a formidable capability to take on the challenging problems inherent with hypersonic flight.
Hypersonic concept vehicle
Additionally, the Programme is undertaking design work on experimental hypersonic vehicle concepts. At the Farnborough International Air Show a single engine hypersonic concept vehicle – “Concept V” has been unveiled.
It is expected that the HVX Programme will be expanded to include other leading aerospace companies to ensure that additional expertise is deployed to support the delivery of this breakthrough technology. The Programme also aims to ensure that the technologies developed can be utilised by other high Mach/hypersonic applications, having synergy with space access and rapid point-to-point transportation.
Air Vice-Marshal Linc Taylor, Chief of Staff Air Capability, Royal Air Force, said: “This activity presents a unique opportunity to experiment with pioneering UK technology to inform the art of the possible and challenge traditional views on the cost and time associated with development and fielding of high-Mach platforms. This partnership benefits from a series
of aligned initiatives, integrating world class skills and technologies on a series of near-term
experimentations to inform our future capability planning.”
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