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Japan to conduct combustion flight test of scramjet engine

ATLA is working to develop a scramjet engine to power various hypersonic vehicles, including a cruise missile. (ATLA/Japan MoD)

Japan is preparing to conduct the first combustion flight test of its in-development scramjet engine. The engine is intended to power various hypersonic vehicles to bolster the country's ability to defend outlying islands.

Speaking to Janes , Japan Ministry of Defense's (MoD's) Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Agency (ATLA) said that the flight test will be conducted on 23 July 2022 at the Uchinoura Space Center of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The flight is expected to provide critical information to advance the project.

“The aim of this research project is to acquire a model that estimates [the] in-flight combustion phenomenon in [the] scramjet engine,” ATLA said, adding that results will be compared with data obtained from ground-based wind tunnel tests.

The agency added that it will also build and evaluate a numerical model analysis to “correct and predict data during the actual flight”.

“We expect to use the model for future R&D programmes such as hypersonic cruise missiles,” the agency said. “We look forward to getting a result of the trial flight test that contributes to constructing the model, a simulator, and utilising this tool for evaluating scramjet in research and development (R&D).”

According to ATLA, the 23 July test will apply the technology developed so far for Japan's scramjet engine technology and hypersonic projects. The latter includes Japan's hypersonic guide Hyper Velocity Gliding Projectile (HVGP) and the hypersonic cruise missile (HCM) projects.

ATLA had earlier said that its hypersonic platforms will employ a dual-mode scramjet engine (DMSJ), with a combination of ramjet and scramjet engines to give the vehicles speeds in excess of Mach 5.

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