The first hypersonic military plane appears in Atlanta and it is spectacular

Hermeus just presented a full-scale model of his new hypersonic plane: the Quarterhorse. The company has a 60 million budget to put the plane in the air and has already shown the first step of what could be a system that completely changes our way of traveling, but also our way of understanding war.

Photo: The first prototype of the SpinLaunch system has successfully launched a projectile at hypersonic speeds (SpinLaunch)
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Jesus Diaz

Ultra-fast planes are in fashion. After the Concorde accident that stopped the manufacture of this type of ships in its tracks, several companies are betting on recovering them. Here we have already talked about some aircraft designs and hypersonic engines that promise to cover the distance between Madrid and New York in just half an hour, but the Quarterhorse is one of the most advanced.

Hermeus has a contract to start it up for 60 million, not much considering that similar projects like the Blackbird SR-71 cost four times as much. With this money the company agrees to have three aircraft ready in less than three years, although the first design and prototype phase is already completed.

Presentation of the Quarterhorse

Typically when working on a new model airplane is to present a scale model that demonstrates that the design that has been approved on paper works in the real world. But Hermeus has decided to impress its investors – among those who are the US Air Force and several private venture capital groups — with a full-scale model that has been fitted with their hypersonic engine.

“When an aerospace company introduces a new airplane, it is nothing more than Styrofoam and fiberglass,” he says. Skyler Shuford, Hermeus Chief Operating Officer. “But at Hermeus, we handle integrated products. And we really, really like to make fire. “

The company promises to have it on the air in less than three years. (Hermeus)

According to Shuford, the model is for them much more than an exhibition piece but an exercise in multidisciplinary design. “We designed, manufactured and integrated the aircraft from nothing but its exterior form, in four months, “says Shuford.

Hermeus has already successfully tested its hypersonic engine prototype. Is about a turbine-based combined cycle (TBCC) engine, iInspired by the GE J85 turbojet, the same as the one used by Virgin Galactic’s White Knight carrier aircraft or Boom Supersonic’s XB-1.

Diagram explaining the operation of the Quarterhorse engine. (Hermeus)

TBBC engines use a conventional turbojet to accelerate to a speed high enough for the jet engine to ignite when the craft reaches hypersonic speed. The difficulty of this design is in getting this turbojet maintain that speed and produce no resistance when the aircraft is in supersonic or hypersonic mode.

According to the company, the Quarterhorse’s powertrain is reusable and will be able to accelerate the plane to about 6,174 km / h, this is five times the speed of sound (Mach 5). At this speed, you could go from Madrid to New York in just 90 minutes, instead of the seven hours normally used by commercial airlines.

This engine can make the plane reach speeds of Mach 5.

Hermeus’ Quarterhorse – an Atlanta-based company that counts former SpaceX and Blue Origin employees among its founders – will likely end up in military and commercial use, if it is ever built. This prototype does not appear to have a cabin or space for passengers so it is most likely a drone like the SR-71.

Hermeus has also reached an agreement with NASA a few months ago to help them research and develop new hypersonic aircraft. According to the company’s CEO, AJ Piplica: “While this partnership with the United States Air Force underscores the Defense Department’s interest in hypersonic aircraft, when combined with Hermeus’ partnership with NASA announced in February 2021, it is clear that there are applications. both commercial and defense what we are building for “.


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