Aviation startup Hermeus has successfully concluded ground testing of its first fully integrated vehicle known as the Quarterhorse Mk 0 hypersonic jet . This non-flying prototype has served as a “dynamic aircraft simulator” for the company by validating all of the aircraft’s key systems in a real-world environment.
The Mk 0 represents the beginning of a program that includes four aircraft in total. Hermeus aims for this program to eventually lead to the development of an aircraft capable of surpassing the SR-71’s absolute speed record for a manned aircraft using air, which was set at 2,193.2 mph on July 28, 1976. It is important to note that the Quarterhorse Mk 0 is unmanned, so the idea of ”beating” this historical record may not be completely accurate.
Hermeus’ ultimate goal is to reach hypersonic speeds typically considered greater than Mach 5. Each aircraft in this program will progressively increase in complexity, allowing Hermeus to spread program risk across multiple vehicles and accelerate the learning process.
Hermeus and the Quarterhorse hypersonic jet
Hermeus claims that the Quarterhorse Mk 0 was designed and built in just six months and all of its testing objectives were completed within a period of 37 days. These objectives include demonstration of remote taxi control, evaluation of radio frequency (RF) latency and ground handling qualities of integrated systems, as well as verification of proper vehicle and flight deck status during the stall. of communication, along with evaluations of human factors and steering and pilot controls on the circuit.
Testing was conducted at the Air Force’s Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC) in Tullahoma, Tennessee, allowing for direct interaction with Air Force stakeholders and regulatory authorities.
The development and testing of the Quarterhorse Mk 0 is in line with Hermeus’ core principles, which focus on rapid iteration and testing in real-world environments. Hermeus CEO and co-founder AJ Piplica highlights that this approach will accelerate aircraft development in a way that is relevant to its customers, with test campaigns that are measured in days rather than months or years.
Hermeus’ next flight vehicle, the Quarterhorse Mk 1, is under construction and scheduled to fly later this year. The Mk 1 will focus on remote takeoff and landing tests, not extremely high flight speeds.
On the other hand, the Quarterhorse Mk 2 will handle supersonic speeds below Mach 3, while the Quarterhorse Mk 4 aims to exceed Mach 3 and break the airspeed record set by the SR-71, marking the transition of the mode turbojet to ramjet in flight.
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