Cruise goes hypersonic

DARPA and the US Office of Naval Research have conducted the first-ever ground test of a full-scale, fully integrated hypersonic cruise missile engine using conventional liquid hydrocarbon fuel.

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Office of Naval Research (ONR) have successfully conducted the first-ever ground test of a full-scale, fully integrated hypersonic cruise missile engine using conventional liquid hydrocarbon fuel.

The test, performed on on May 30, 2002, in a wind tunnel at NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA, demonstrated the operation of the engine at simulated hypersonic cruise conditions (Mach 6.5 at 90,000 feet altitude).

Demonstration of efficient supersonic combustion ramjet (scramjet) performance with a liquid hydrocarbon fuel is an essential step to enabling a viable hypersonic cruise missile.

The test is the first demonstration of net positive engine thrust for a fully installed,hydrocarbon-fueled scramjet missile engine. Additional tests are planned later this summer at the Air Force Arnold Engineering and Development Center, Arnold AFB, TN, to verify operation at Mach 3.5 and 4 flight conditions, which will simulate the hypersonic engine taking over following a rocket boost.

The engine will be used in the four-year, joint DARPA/ONR Hypersonic FlightDemonstration program called HyFly. The objective of the HyFly program is to flight-test a missile demonstrator able to cruise at speeds of up to Mach 6 to a range of 600 nautical miles using liquid hydrocarbon fuel.

The HyFly program is being performed by a team consisting of Boeing (St. Louis, MO), Aerojet (Sacramento, CA), Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (Laurel, MD), and Naval Air Warfare Center (China Lake, CA).

The engine is a dual combustion ramjet engine developed by The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory under ONR’s Hypersonic Weapon Technology program.

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