DARPA awards contract for hypersonic Advanced Full Range Engine

SACRAMENTO, Calif. Aerojet Rocketdyne has signed an agreement with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop and ground-test an innovative propulsion system under DARPA's Advanced Full Range Engine (AFRE) program.

The primary goal of the AFRE program is development and initial demonstration of a reusable hydrocarbon propulsion system able to operate in a reliable and affordable manner over the full range of speeds between takeoff and cruise. Such engines are being designed to enable responsive hypersonic aircraft for a variety of missions.

"Through the AFRE program, we aim to mature the design and component technologies and bring them together to conduct a full system-level Turbine Based Combined Cycle (TBCC) ground test demonstration," said Eileen Drake, CEO and president. "Developing propulsion technologies capable of operating at subsonic, supersonic, and hypersonic speeds would enable us to build future generations of high-speed military aircraft to ensure air dominance."

’s new Advanced Full Range Engine (AFRE) program seeks to develop and demonstrate a new aircraft propulsion system that could operate at subsonic through hypersonic speeds and lay the framework for routine, reusable hypersonic flight. Image: DARPA

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