An Aerospace Startup Just Won a Contract to Develop an Air Force One Jet That Can Travel at Mach 5. Here’s an Early Look at the Engine That Could Rocket From New York to Paris in 90 Minutes.
- Aerospace startup Hermeus just won a US Air Force contract to develop a presidential jet that can travel at Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound.
- The hypersonic Air Force One, which would fly from New York to Paris in 90 minutes, is at least 10 years away from reality.
- The government is set to take delivery of new Boeing 747 – 8 jets to replace the current presidential fleet next year.
- Hermeus successfully tested a prototype of its engine in March, paving the way towards developing a test aircraft.
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The Air Force One of the future might be getting a major speed boost.
Aerospace company Hermeus announced a contract with the US Air Force and the Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate to develop a hypersonic aircraft for the presidential fleet.
While the next Air Force One, a modified 747 – 8, is due to be delivered by Boeing next year, the Hermeus contract will look towards its eventual replacement.
Hermeus won the contract after designing, building, and successfully testing a prototype of an engine capable of propelling an airplane to Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound — about 3,300 miles per hour. Mach 5 represents the delineation between supersonic and hypersonic speeds.
The company completed those tests in March, according to Aviation Week.
Hermeus plans to build a demonstrator vehicle over the next five years, with commercial aircraft envisioned in about a decade, co-founder and COO Skyler Shuford said in 2019. According to a press release announcing the Air Force contract, part of the project will focus on integrating Air Force requirements into the airplane’s designs.
Hermeus emerged last year, announcing plans to develop a Mach 5 aircraft that could fly from New York to Paris in about 90 minutes. The company raised an initial round of funding led by Khosla Ventures, Ars Technica reported at the time, which it used to develop the prototype. According to Ars, Hermeus will use a turbine-based combined-cycle engine for the propulsion system. The company’s co-founders are alumni of SpaceX and Blue Origin, as well as aerospace company Generation Orbit.
At the time, Hermeus said it planned to use mostly existing technology and materials to achieve hypersonic travel.
“We can make a vehicle fly that fast with today’s technology,” said Glenn Case, a co-founder and the chief technology officer for the company, in a video this spring.
“We aren’t getting into anything too miraculous,” Shuford told Ars Technica. “We want to do engineering, not science.”
The company currently lists about 10 open positions, including for airframe and propulsion engineers.