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Australia's hypersonic UAV project to boost advanced materials

The Australian government has awarded a multimillion-dollar grant for the development of the DART CMP hypersonic unmanned aerial vehicle. (Hypersonix Launch Systems)

The Australian government has awarded a multimillion-dollar grant to a reusable hypersonic unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) project. The grant is expected to boost the development of high-temperature composites, which the country lacks.

The federal government made the announcement of a AUD2.95 million (USD 2.21 million) Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P) grant for the DART Composite (CMP) airframe on 29 March.

This reusable hypersonic platform is being developed by Hypersonix Launch Systems, together with the University of Southern Queensland, LSM Advanced Composites, and New South Wales-based Romar Engineering.

Hypersonix said in a statement that deliverables comprise a complete UAV airframe, including composite aeroshell and aerodynamic control surfaces, flight avionics, and a hydrogen fuel system.

Powered by a SPARTAN hydrogen-fuelled scramjet engine, the UAV can travel at hypersonic speeds up to Mach 12, according to Hypersonix. The company told Janes that the three-dimensional (3D)-printed scramjet engine was made ready in December 2021.

The engine is described as a fifth-generation, zero-emission, clean hydrogen scramjet engine.

According to Nina Patz, head of Business Development/Marketing at Hypersonix, manufacturing of the SPARTAN was funded by an Accelerating Commercialisation grant of AUD954,000 by the Australian government in August 2020.

She said that the grant was completed on 31 March.

Hypersonix said that the DART CMP is an advanced version of the DART AE multimission, hypersonic vehicle being developed by the company. The DART AE is scheduled for launch in 2023.

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