DARPA Seeks to Advance Hypersonics Technology

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is launching the Integrated Hypersonics program to improve the nation’s understanding of long-range hypersonic flight at up to 20 times the speed of sound and address technical challenges to achieving that. “We do not yet have a complete hypersonic system solution,” said Gregory Hulcher, director of strategic warfare in the Pentagon’s acquisition office, in DARPA’s July 6 release. He added, “Programs like Integrated Hypersonics will leverage previous investments in this field and continue to reduce risk, inform development, and advance capabilities.” IH, which builds upon the agency’s previous hypersonics research, will focus on advancing technology in five primary areas: thermal protection system and hot structures; aerodynamics; guidance, navigation, and control; range/instrumentation; and propulsion. The agency seeks to culminate IH activities in 2016 with the test flight of a full-scale hypersonic X-plane, dubbed HX. It envisions HX as a recoverable, next-generation vehicle augmented with rocket-based propulsion. DARPA has scheduled a proposers’ day on Aug. 14 in Arlington, Va., for would-be industry participants.