The Air Force Test Center (AFTC) at Arnold AFB, Tenn., plans to issue a solicitation by the middle of this month for a small business to support AFTC’s hypersonic test and evaluation (T&E) efforts.

The contract is to support the Air Force’s High Speed Systems Test (HSST) and Hypersonic Central Test and Evaluation Investment Program (CTEIP) managed by the Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC), per a Jan. 5 business notice.

The winning contractor must meet a number of requirements, including having experience in hypersonic boost-glide, scramjet, and interceptor vehicle design and test and evaluation, and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) development, fielding, operation, and sustainment, including design, operation, and maintenance expertise with the Northrop Grumman [NOC] RQ-4 Global Hawk and the General Atomics MQ-9.

The incumbent hypersonic T&E support company is Albuquerque, N.M.-based Perikin Enterprises, LLC.

Perikin has been a key player in DoD’s SkyRange program, which seeks to develop new, advanced sensors for integration on the RQ-4, MQ-9, and other planes to improve U.S. hypersonic flight testing. Perikin also said that it has worked with OSD’s Test Resource Management Center (TRMC) to improve hypersonic ground testing through developing the Hypersonic Aerothermal and Propulsion Clean Air Testbed (HAPCAT), “the world’s highest temperature, clean air hypersonic test facility,” the company said, adding that it is also “leading the design and construction of Project Phoenix at AEDC, the world’s largest clean air, true temperature hypersonic test facility.”

Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) wants retired Air Force Block 20 and 30 RQ-4s to serve as sensors for hypersonic testing, and he wants to base the SkyRange program at Grand Sky N.D. (Defense Daily, Oct. 20, 2021).

Hoeven is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense panel.

In October last year, Hoeven and officials from Northrop Grumman and Grand Sky participated in a retirement ceremony for the four RQ-4 Block 20s that the Air Force transferred to Northrop Grumman in Grand Sky.

“Currently, DoD uses an aging fleet of ships deployed across a Pacific Ocean corridor to test hypersonic missiles,” Hoeven’s office has said “DoD is only able to conduct four to six tests per year, as it takes several weeks to deploy and position the ships for each test. Additionally, this process signals the testing schedule to our adversaries. SkyRange would replace the ships, which are expensive to operate, with modified Global Hawks that could deploy quickly and increase testing capacity through the creation of additional testing corridors in the Pacific and elsewhere.”