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.

 In Air, Forces & Capabilities
  • 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.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

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.

Hermeus Test Engine Prototype

Hermeus said it was able to design, build, and test the engine prototype within just nine months.

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.

Business Insider: Defense source|articles

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