DARPA, Orbital ATK team to study feasibility of hypersonic engines

DULLES, Va. Defense/aerospace contractor Orbital ATK is partnering with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to study the potential integration of turbine and hypersonic engine technologies into a new aircraft propulsion system under DARPA’s Advanced Full Range Engine (AFRE) program.

The AFRE program seeks to develop a new aircraft propulsion system that would operate over a wide range of speeds, from conventional runway low-speed takeoff through hypersonic flight and then back to a conventional landing. Orbital ATK officials say that systems that operate at hypersonic speeds could potentially extend aircraft range and shorten response times, thereby offering enhanced effectiveness compared to current systems.

The program will explore the concept of a combined-cycle engine technology in which, during flight, a turbine engine would operate up to supersonic speeds and a dual-mode would transition to hypersonic speed.

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