Reaction Engines’ Hypersonic Air Vehicle Experimental (HVX) Programme will see the UK become the only nation in the world to develop a reusable hypersonic capability, Mark Thomas, the company’s CEO, has said.

The HVX programme aims to establish the UK as a leader in reusable hypersonic air systems, with input from Reaction Engines in partnership with 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).

The project aims to deliver significant enhancements to UK defence capabilities by rapidly maturing technologies which can deliver a reduction in the cost of developing a reusable high-mach or hypersonic air vehicle.

‘Strategic imperative’

Speaking to FINN at the Farnborough International Airshow last month, Thomas said: “We’re planning to put a reusable system together that demonstrates hypersonic technologies. That’s a real strategic imperative.

“Basically, things that go extremely fast, and it requires us to develop a new type of propulsion system that can operate at very high speeds and very high temperatures, build a vehicle around that, and demonstrate it as rapidly as possible.”

Reaction Engines’ precooler and SABRE combined-cycle engine technologies are key foundations for the programme.

‘First of its type’

Thomas added: “This is the first of its type, we’re the only nation in the world that is developing a reusable hypersonic capability.

“We aim to get there first, we’ve put this fantastic team together that blends our innovative technology, we’re really able to do things with pace and energy, and with the experience of Rolls Royce with their research and development culture and long heritage in jet engines.”

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