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Hermeus satisfied with Quarterhorse Mk 0 testing, constructing Mk 1

Quarterhorse Mk 0, Hermeus's ‘dynamic iron bird'. (Hermeus)

Following ground tests of its Quarterhorse Mk 0 ‘dynamic iron bird', Hermeus is preparing to complete the build of and unveil its first flight-test vehicle, dubbed Mk 1.

Mk 0 testing wrapped up in November 2023. The test campaign, conducted at the US Air Force's (USAF's) Arnold Engineering Development Complex in Tullahoma, Tennessee, marked Hermeus's first real-world test deployment beyond its Atlanta, Georgia factory. Although a 4 January statement noted testing of subsystems, ground handling, radio frequency (RF) lag, and lost-link performance, among other things, “I look more broadly at the objectives of not just that test campaign, but that part of the Quarterhorse programme”, AJ Piplica, the company's founder and CEO, told Janes in a 22 January interview. “It's very much about kind of exercising all the elements of the full company as well as our interfaces with the regulatory bodies.”

“We've gone 0 to 1 on all of our internal proxies for [manufacturing], tracing the traceability of everything through all of our systems, to the point where we can deliver an airworthiness package to the [USAF] for the Mk 1,” Piplica added.

The result was a certification of safety from the USAF test enterprise, including the 412th Test Wing, which oversees the service's main flight-test centre at Edwards Air Force Base, California. With those corporate-to-government links established, procedures in place, and subsystems tested by Mk 0, “there's not a huge jump” to the complexity of the Mk 1, Piplica said.

Mk 0 testing brought no major surprises, he said. Aside from “a reasonable level” of hardware changes to be applied to future vehicles, Hermeus will change some of its software to increase reliability and functionality. Piplica declined to elaborate on this.

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