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At full speed: Hypersonix prepares DART AE for future heights

The DART AE is a 3.5 m long single-use hypersonic vehicle powered by a SPARTAN scramjet engine that, according to developer Hypersonix Launch Systems, has a top speed of Mach 7 and a range of 1,000 km. (Hypersonix Launch Systems)

Australian firm Hypersonix Launch Systems is on track to deliver its DART AE (Additive Engineering) hypersonic flyer to the US Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) for testing at the end of 2024. The multimission unmanned vehicle – the airframe and scramjet engine for which is 3D printed – was selected by the DIU in March 2023 under the agency's Hypersonic and High-Cadence Airborne Testing Capabilities (HyCAT) programme.

This DIU project outlines a requirement for a vehicle capable of operating in a “representative environment” that can maintain speeds above Mach 5 with a manoeuvrable/non-ballistic flight profile and at least a three-minute flight duration with “near-constant flight conditions”. Flights will be repeated at short intervals. Capabilities to be tested in the programme include sensors for detection and tracking, communications, navigation, guidance, and control.

Head of Product at Hypersonix Launch Systems Andy Mulholland told Janes in November that the company, which is based in Brisbane, is “all hands on deck” to bring the DIU requirement to reality. He added that the DART AE is a key part of the company's longer-term programme to develop larger hypersonic vehicles that can deliver unique capabilities to defence. Hypersonix's launch systems are powered by its in-house developed hydrogen-fuelled SPARTAN scramjet engine.


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