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Hypersonix, Kratos, team to develop and fly DART AE hypersonic vehicle

The blueprint of the DART AE multimission hypersonic drone technology demonstrator. (Hypersonix Launch Systems)

US contractor Kratos Defense & Security Solutions is to provide the rocket booster motor for the DART AE multimission hypersonic drone technology demonstrator being developed by Australian company Hypersonix Launch Systems.

Announcing the agreement on 25 January, the two companies said they were aiming for a first flight of DART AE in 2023.

DART AE is being developed by Hypersonix as a multimission, hypersonic vehicle fully 3D-printed from high-temperature alloys and powered by a hydrogen-fuelled SPARTAN scramjet engine. Designed to operate at speeds between Mach 5 and Mach 12, SPARTAN is described by Hypersonix as a “fifth-generation, zero-emission, clean hydrogen scramjet engine with a publicly disclosable range of 500 km”.

Amiga Engineering has previously been contracted by Hypersonix for the additive engineering build of the SPARTAN scramjet. Manufacture is being undertaken under an Australian government grant, awarded in August 2020, covering the build of a flight-ready scramjet engine and fuel system.

The Kratos booster system will accelerate the DART AE drone to a speed greater than Mach 5 for vehicle release. Following ignition of the scramjet, the hypersonic vehicle will fly autonomously along a programmed flight path to a predetermined landing location.

In a statement, Kratos said that it would leverage its extensive digital engineering capabilities, together with its sounding rocket booster integration and launch experience. The company has significant experience in Australian hypersonic experiments, and has been involved with multiple hypersonic launches in collaboration with the Defence Science and Technology Group.

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