Rolls-Royce will be the founding industrial member of a U.S. Dept. of Defense-backed testing center supporting hypersonic aerospace research and development. The Hypersonics Ground Test Center (HGTC) at Purdue University will support U.S. national defense strategy, providing testing capabilities to aerospace engineering and manufacturing businesses. DoD has seven active rapid-prototyping projects underway with a combined $3 billion in annual funding (coordinated by the Joint Hypersonics Transition Office), working toward hypersonic capability as a U.S. defense priority.
Hypersonic flight – which is five times the speed of sound or higher – represents is considered to be a U.S. defense priority, but must overcome significant physical limits to successful development, including very high-temperatures and air pressures.
To start, the HGTC will have two separate testing tracks, conducting tests in the 3.5-5.0 Mach range or the 4.5-7.5 Mach range. Multiple businesses will be able to work simultaneously on site, with full assurance of intellectual-property security. And the center will be available for long-term lease to allow guaranteed, timely access for contractors to conduct tests according to their own schedule.
For Rolls-Royce North America, the testing center will establish additional capability for developing high-Mach propulsion systems.
“Rolls-Royce has a unique history in high-speed propulsion, dating to the Concorde aircraft and 30 years of experience on hypersonics research with our Department of Defense customers through our LibertyWorks advanced technology unit in Indianapolis,” stated Tom Bell, chairman and CEO, Rolls-Royce North America. “We are keenly interested in the area of hypersonic propulsion and currently exploring development of advanced supersonic and high-Mach propulsion systems with our customers.”
Recently, Rolls-Royce North America and Purdue University announced plans to establish a multimillion-dollar center for hybrid-electric and altitude testing. The two new projects will create large-scale testing campus at the Purdue Aerospace District, where Rolls-Royce already has an electronic controls facility and conducts advanced engine testing.