The Air Force has entered a multinational research partnership with the Australian Defense Department to pursue hypersonic technology development. The $54 million cooperative program—called Hypersonic International flight Research Experimentation, or HiFIRE, covers six years of basic and applied research shepherded by the Air Force Research Lab and the Australian Defense Science and Technology Organization. HiFIRE will include up to 10 flight experiments. AFRL program manager Douglas Dolvin says there is potential to develop in the near term air-breathing hypersonic cruise missiles that could “deliver prompt, precision strike of time critical targets from safe, standoff distances.” For the far term, he believes such air-breathing hypersonic vehicles “may enable operationally responsive space access.”
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.