AFRL Achieves Record-Setting Hypersonic Ground Test Milestone

AEDC Aerodynamic and Propulsion Test Unit at Arnold Air Force Base (U.S. Air Force photo)

AEDC Aerodynamic and Propulsion Test Unit at Arnold Air Force Base (U.S. Air Force photo)

August 13, 2019 | Source: Robins.AF.mil, Todd Barhorst, Aug 5, 2019

A U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and Air Force Test Center ground test team set a record for the highest thrust produced by an air-breathing hypersonic engine in Air Force history.

“AFRL, in conjunction with Arnold Engineering Development Complex and Northrop Grumman, achieved over 13,000 pounds of thrust from a scramjet engine during testing at Arnold Air Force Base,” said Todd Barhorst, AFRL aerospace engineer and lead for the Medium Scale Critical Components program.

The 18-foot-long Northrop Grumman engine endured a half hour of accumulated combustion time during the 9 months of testing.

“The series of tests, ran in conjunction with AEDC and AFRL, on this fighter-engine sized scramjet was truly remarkable,” said Pat Nolan, Vice President, Missile Products, Northrop Grumman. “The scramjet successfully ran across a range of hypersonic Mach numbers for unprecedented run times, demonstrating that our technology is leading the way in delivering large scale hypersonic platforms to our Warfighters.”

“The plan for a larger and faster hypersonic air-breathing engine was established 10 years ago during the X-51 test program, as the Air Force recognized the need to push the boundaries of hypersonic research,” Barhorst said. “A new engine with 10 times the flow of the X-51 would allow for a new class of scramjet vehicles.”