Boeing goes hypersonic

Boeing is to take part in a hypersonics research programme jointly established by the US Air Force Research Laboratory and Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Organisation.

Boeing is to take part in a hypersonics research programme jointly established by the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Organisation(DSTO). The $54m project is called HIFiRE (Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation).

Under a recently-signed agreement enabled by a Queensland Government award, Boeing will work with the DSTO and The University of Queensland on three critical flight tests and will contribute to the design of a free-flying WaveRider-type hypersonic vehicle that will be used in two of those flight tests. Hypersonic speeds are generally described as those above Mach 5.

Plans for the HIFiRE programme call for 10 total flight tests over five years at Woomera in South Australia. The three flight tests that are the primary focus of the Boeing collaboration with Australian partners will be the fourth, seventh and eighth in the schedule. Sequentially, they will be of a WaveRider-type vehicle as an unpowered glider, a scramjet engine alone, and the WaveRider-type vehicle powered by the same scramjet engine.

Boeing’s collaboration in the HIFiRE project stems from a prior collaboration in scramjet development with the DSTO, the Government of Queensland and The University of Queensland that was announced in April 2006. Each of the parties is making cash and in-kind contributions to build advanced scramjet prototypes and undertake prolonged flight tests at speeds of more than Mach 8, or 8,770kph.