Rolls-Royce to bolster UK defence with new 'cutting-edge' hypersonic project

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Rolls-Royce to bolster UK defence with new 'cutting-edge' hypersonic project

New hypersonic technologies to develop UK defence systemsComing days after Joe Biden’s USA successfully tested a hypersonic missile capable of trav

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New hypersonic technologies to develop UK defence systems

Coming days after Joe Biden’s USA successfully tested a hypersonic missile capable of travelling five times the speed of sound for the first time, the launch of the new initiative highlights the priorities of the UK Government, especially given the massive resources which both China and Russia are pouring in. In a statement issued on the first day of the Farnborough Air Show, Reaction Engines, Rolls-Royce, the Royal Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO), the UK Government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the UK’s National Security Strategic Investment Fund (NSSIF) announced new details of their Hypersonic Air Vehicle Experimental (HVX) Programme.

Air Vice-Marshal Linc Taylor, Chief of Staff Air Capability, Royal Air Force, said: “This activity presents a unique opportunity to experiment with pioneering UK technology to inform the art of the possible and challenge traditional views on the cost and time associated with development and fielding of high-Mach platforms.

“This partnership benefits from a series of aligned initiatives, integrating world class skills and technologies on a series of near-term experimentations to inform our future capability planning.”

Building on the pioneering high-speed propulsion technologies and extensive research and development capabilities of the partners, the HVX will set out to establish the UK as a leader in reusable hypersonic air systems.

Hypersonic

Hypersonic technology will be help counter the threat posed by Vladimir Putin’s Russia (Image: GETTY)

Hypersonic

Britain is trying to develop its own hypersonic capability (Image: Reaction Engines)

Air Vice-Marshal Linc Taylor, Chief of Staff Air Capability, Royal Air Force, said: “This activity presents a unique opportunity to experiment with pioneering UK technology to inform the art of the possible and challenge traditional views on the cost and time associated with development and fielding of high-Mach platforms.

“This partnership benefits from a series of aligned initiatives, integrating world class skills and technologies on a series of near-term experimentations to inform our future capability planning.”

Building on the pioneering high-speed propulsion technologies and extensive research and development capabilities of the partners, the HVX will set out to establish the UK as a leader in reusable hypersonic air systems.

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Hypersonic

Hypersonic ambitions will be unveiled at the Farnborough Airshow (Image: Reaction Engine)

The HVX Programme will also undertake design work on experimental hypersonic vehicle concepts. A single engine hypersonic concept vehicle – Concept V – is being unveiled at Farnborough, one of a number of concept designs in active development.

The intent is to expand HVX to include other leading aerospace companies in order to ensure additional expertise is deployed to support the delivery of such breakthrough technology.

HVX will also aim to ensure the technologies developed can be put to use in other high Mach/hypersonic applications, although there was no specific mention of missile development.

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Hypersonic planes

Hypersonic planes and other technology travel many times the speed of sound (Image: Reaction Engines)

US President Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden (Image: GETTY)

Mark Thomas, Chief Executive of Reaction Engines, said: “Reaction Engines is excited to be leading this ambitious, future-focused, programme with the Rapid Capabilities Office and Strategic Partners, bringing together the best of the best in technology, talent and innovation, to provide the UK with a unique capability in reusable hypersonic systems”

John Wardell, Director Future Programmes, of Rolls-Royce, added: “This collaboration will enable Rolls-Royce to work effectively alongside Reaction Engines and our strategic partners to develop innovative and cutting-edge technologies that will provide our customers with the equipment needed to meet their military requirements.

“The HVX Programme will bring together a unique opportunity to raise the UK’s profile in our ability to develop both the skills and technology in the fast evolving area.”

Hypersonic factfile

Hypersonic factfile (Image: Reaction Engines)

Steve Simm, Air Systems Programme Manager of Dstl, explained: “Dstl is pleased to be involved in this exciting project, through three main aspects: use of MOD research funding to understand potential air system concepts and their feasibility; exploring potential operational utility of these concepts; maximising exploitation of the wider S&T Portfolio, such as the Hypersonics Weapons Research Programme.”

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Pentagon announced the US had recently successfully tested two Lockheed Martin Corp hypersonic missiles, amid growing concerns Russia and China have had more success developing their own hypersonic weapons.

The US Air Force confirmed it successfully tested its Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) booster on Tuesday off the California coast. Reuters reported the ARRW test earlier on Wednesday in which the booster was carried aloft under the wing of a B-52H before it was launched. In previous tests, the weapon did not detach from the plane.

Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping’s China is also forging ahead with hypersonic technology (Image: GETTY)

A Lockheed spokesman said: “This second successful test demonstrates ARRW’s ability to reach and withstand operational hypersonic speeds, collect crucial data for use in further flight tests, and validate safe separation from the aircraft.”

Air Force Brigadier General Heath Collins, program executive officer, Armament Directorate, said, “We have now completed our booster test series and are ready to move forward to all-up-round testing later this year.”

In a separate hypersonic weapon test, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) confirmed it successfully performed the first test of its Operational Fires hypersonic weapon.

Hypersonic weapons travel in the upper atmosphere at more than five times the speed of sound, or about 6,200 km (3,853 miles) per hour.



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