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Quarterhorse Mk 1 puts Hermeus on route to hypersonic flight

Hypersonic flight start-up Hermeus has unveiled Quarterhorse Mk 1, the company’s first aircraft set to take flight later this year.


Hermeus designed, built, and integrated Quarterhorse Mk 1 in seven months, and is the company’s second fully-integrated vehicle in the past year, following Quarterhorse Mk 0 which completed its test campaign in November 2023.

Quarterhorse Mk 1 is an uncrewed, remotely piloted aircraft powered by a GE J85 engine with a primary mission to demonstrate high-speed take-off and landing. Flight tests will take place at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

According to Hermeus, the coming months will see the vehicle undergo tests across its subsystems, ground station, operations, and human factors to prepare it for flight test later this year. 

“Moving into the integrated test program is the culmination of a huge team effort,” Hermeus VP of Test, Don Kaderbek said in a statement. “As we begin the journey to first flight, we will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the aircraft’s performance while simultaneously examining the effectiveness of our test procedures, safety culture, and interdisciplinary team collaboration.” 

Georgia, USA-headquartered Hermeus added that each aircraft in the Quarterhorse program progressively increases in complexity, building on the learnings of prior builds. The company said this approach manages program risk across multiple vehicles and accelerates delivery of products and services. 

“The most unique and important aspect of our approach to developing a hypersonic aircraft is our rate of iteration – designing, building, and flying an aircraft in less than a year, every year,” said Hermeus CEO and co-founder, AJ Piplica. “It’s a pace that hasn’t been seen in the aircraft world for half a century. This approach has been proven successful in delivering massive improvements in the capabilities of rockets, satellites, and small drones. We’re now bringing that power of iteration speed to aircraft. It’s a capability that is absolutely necessary for solving the challenges of operationalizing hypersonic aircraft.” 

In addition to showcasing the aircraft, Hermeus also shared plans for the next iteration of Quarterhorse Mk 2, which will feature the Pratt & Whitney F100 engine and fly at supersonic speeds next year. 

“Seeing a new aircraft flying the F100 supersonic next year will be nothing short of extraordinary,” said Josh Goodman, senior director of the F100 Program at Pratt & Whitney.