While Lockheed Martin‘s [LMT] Skunk Works, Boeing‘s [BA] Phantom Works, and commercial companies, such as Hermeus, have received the ink regarding possible Pentagon development of hypersonic aircraft, Leidos [LDOS] has emerged as a viable contender on the heels of last week’s $334 million U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) award for an air-breathing hypersonic aircraft demonstrator under AFRL’s Mayhem program.

The Pentagon said that it received six bids for Mayhem. Defense Daily will update this article with any information received from companies or from AFRL on the bidders besides Leidos. In addition to the above companies, Airbus and Virgin Galactic have envisioned hypersonic passenger planes.

At press time on Dec. 19, Lockheed Martin said that it did not bid on Mayhem, and Boeing said that, while it also did not bid as a prime, the company is a member of the winning Leidos team.

“The Expendable Hypersonic Multi-mission ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) and Strike program, better known as Mayhem, will span a 51-month period of performance,” Leidos said on Dec. 16. “The initial task order is $24 million to conduct the System Requirements Review and Conceptual Design Review in a digital engineering environment.”

Leidos’ Dynetics unit is developing the Common Hypersonic Glide Body for U.S. Navy and Army hypersonic missiles.

Steve Cook, the president of Dynetics, said in the Leidos statement that Leidos plans to leverage the company’s “years of investment, knowledge and success in the hypersonic field” to “deliver the next generation of air-breathing hypersonic systems.”

Mayhem “marks the fourth program in the hypersonic field Leidos has gotten to be a part of,” Leidos said in a Dec. 19 email response to questions. “It also marks the third branch of the military we are privileged to work with on the development of these vital systems.”

The company said that its Mayhem team includes Calspan, Draper Laboratory and Kratos Defense & Security, Solutions, Inc. [KTOS] as the System Design Agent (SDA).

The SDA “will forge partnerships between the government, industry and academia to deliver the cutting-edge research and development needed to design and prepare a production ready technical data package to produce prototypes,” Leidos said. “Leidos will also lead the Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) and programming to help ensure Mayhem can transition from idea to operational system.”

While Leidos has experience with boost-glide, it does not have experience with air-breathing hypersonic systems. Draper has experience with air-breathing hypersonic interceptor development, while Calspan in March of last year bought ACEnT Laboratories for its hypersonic testing capability.

“Our subsidiary Dynetics is the prime contractor for the Common Hypersonic Glide Body, and a part of our experience comes from our continued investment in that work,” Leidos said in the email response to questions on Dec. 19. “Certain members of the Mayhem team have been a part of the glide body work, and knowledge gained from their support of that program will be coming over into work on the Mayhem program. That work also includes another program, the thermal protection shield, which will help with protecting the system as it travels in the extreme heat generated by hypersonic speeds. This creates two areas of robust investment, knowledge and success for our Mayhem team to build off of.”

Leidos’ Dynetics “also recently won a contract for MACH-TB, a system that will be developed to test commercially-available hypersonic systems,” Leidos said on Dec. 19. “This will provide Leidos with a platform to enable our evolution as a design agent for new hypersonic technologies and vehicles. Dynetics was named the prime for this contract, but since it was awarded this year, Leidos will play a larger role in the development and testing of this specific test bed and experimental glide body the program calls for. This program will also expand our knowledge of hypersonic systems and their viability.”

Mayhem is to use a scramjet engine to allow the aircraft to fly long distances at speeds greater than Mach 5, Leidos said on Dec. 16.

“Leidos is tasked with designing and developing a large-class version that surpasses current air-breathing systems in range and payload capacity using digital engineering to ensure the design efforts help future development and transition,” the company said.