DARPA to kick off AFRE program for hypersonic propulsion on future aircraft and missiles

ARLINGTON, Va., 28 June 2016. U.S. military researchers will brief industry next month on a new program to develop a full-scale reusable propulsion system for future hypersonic aircraft and missiles that can fly at least five times the speed of sound.

Jun 28th, 2016
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ARLINGTON, Va., 28 June 2016. U.S. military researchers will brief industry next month on a new program to develop a full-scale reusable propulsion system for future hypersonic aircraft and missiles that can fly at least five times the speed of sound.

Officials of the U.S Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., have scheduled proposers days for 13 and 14 July 2016 to brief industry on the Advanced Full Range Engine (AFRE) project.

AFRE briefings will be from 1 to 5 p.m. on 13 July, and from 9 a.m. to noon on 14 July at the DARPA conference Center, 675 N. Randolph St., in Arlington, Va. July 13 is unclassified but ITAR-restricted, while 14 July is for one-on-one discussions with potential proposers. DARPA will release a full solicitation for the AFRE program on or near 13 July 2016.

The AFRE program will develop and ground-demonstrate a full-scale, reusable turbine-based combined-cycle (TBCC) propulsion system for future hypersonic aircraft. TBCC combines a turbine engine for low-speed operations with a ramjet/scramjet for high-speed operations via a common inlet and nozzle serving.

Related: Air Force seeks enabling technologies for future hypersonic munition

Reliable hypersonic propulsion technology will be necessary for future generations of high-speed manned and unmanned military aircraft, as well as for next-generation anti-ship missiles and other smart munitions.

The program will address technologies to enable the turbine engine and ramjet/scramjet to switch from the low speed to high speed, common inlet and nozzle, and culminate in an integrated freejet test of the TBCC propulsion system from takeoff to hypersonic flight.

AFRE seeks to demonstrate one integrated propulsion system to propel future hypersonic systems. Special emphasis moving the propulsion system from turbine-only operation, to mixed turbine/ramjet operation, and then to ramjet/scramjet operation and back to turbine.

The AFRE program will be in two phases: system design, subscale and large-scale component development, and ground demonstration; and large-scale, integrated test of the integrated low-speed and high-speed flowpaths.

Related: Air Force asking industry for enabling technologies for future hypersonic munition

Companies whose experts would like to attend the AFRE briefings must fill out a DARPA .pdf form located online at www.darpa.mil/attachments/DARPA104.pdf.

Send the completed form by encrypted email to DARPA's Eugene Robinett at eugene.robinett.ctr@darpa.mil, or by fax at 703-696-8401. Those attending must present proof of U.S. Citizenship or permanent resident status at the door.

Email questions or concerns to DARPA-SN-16-43@darpa.mil . More information is online at https://www.fbo.gov/spg/ODA/DARPA/CMO/DARPA-SN-16-43/listing.html.

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