The Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HIFiRE) program, a U.S.-Australian effort to improve understanding of high-speed flight, plans to conduct its next flight test “in the next couple months,” according to a program representative.
During the test, a scramjet built by the Australian government will be launched aboard a sounding rocket at Woomera test range in northwest South Australia, said Alex Maag, an aerospace engineer for the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Aerospace Systems Directorate at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
The air-breathing vehicle will then fly “a couple minutes” at hypersonic speed, which is defined as starting at Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, Maag said.
The program, a joint effort between AFRL and Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Group, has conducted seven flight tests so far and plans to conduct a total of 10 tests by 2020.
“The overarching goal is to create a knowledge base” of hypersonic data that can advance the development of future high-speed concepts, Maag said.
HIFiRE was one of dozens of research projects highlighted at the Pentagon May 18 for the Department of Defense Lab Day.