Hermeus Unveils, Powers Up Hypersonic Prototype

 - November 10, 2021, 10:41 AM
Hermeus last week unveiled a non-flying prototype of its Quarterhorse unmanned small-sized test vehicle and fired up its engines to full afterburner power during an event at its Atlanta headquarters. (Photo: Hermeus)

Hermeus, which landed a $60 million U.S. Air Force contract for the initial development of a hypersonic business jet for presidential travel, last week unveiled a non-flying prototype of its Quarterhorse unmanned small-sized test vehicle. During the by-invitation-only event at its Atlanta headquarters, the company not only unveiled an integrated airplane with working hardware but also gave a live demonstration of its engine at maximum afterburner power.

Quarterhorse’s powerplant is a turbine-based combined cycle engine based on the GE J85. An airworthy prototype that will test speeds between Mach 3 and Mach 5 is expected to begin flight tests next year, according to Hermeus. The company has acquired a half-dozen GE J85s as it proceeds with an “iterative, hardware-rich approach” development program.

“When an aerospace company typically unveils a new aircraft, it’s nothing more than Styrofoam and fiberglass,” said Hermeus COO Skyler Shuford. “But at Hermeus we drive to integrated products. And we really, really like to make fire.” He noted that the company designed, manufactured, and integrated the aircraft, “from nothing but an outer shape,” in just four months.

Plans call for following with a midsize vehicle that will be used for flight testing for cargo purposes around 2025. It will have longer range and more capable environmental control. Hermeus then will proceed with a 20-seat passenger aircraft targeted for FAA certification in 2029.