Rolls-Royce to Develop Hypersonic Technology

Rolls-Royce to Develop Hypersonic Technology 18 July, 2019

Rolls-Royce has been awarded a contract to develop hypersonic propulsion systems for increased aircraft performance and capability. Typhoon’s engine EJ-200 will provide base for further works.

Britain’s defence ministry is stepping up its interest in hypersonics with a $12 million contract to Rolls-Royce and its industrial partners to develop high-Mach aircraft propulsion systems. The contract will be with Rolls-Royce Plc, (RR) and its technology partners, BAE Systems and Reaction Engines and will focus on enabling technologies for increased aircraft performance and capability.

The engine will be called SABRE (Synergetic Air Breathing Rocket Engine) which will be a new class of engine for propelling both high speed aircraft and spacecraft. Unlike jet engines, which are only capable of powering a vehicle up to Mach 3, SABRE engines are capable of Mach 5.4 in air-breathing mode, and Mach 25 in rocket mode for space flight.

The British intend to place a two-year deal with industry to undertake design studies, development and experimentation of propulsion systems, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier told an audience of senior officers and industry executives at the Air and Space Conference which opened in London July 17. Hillier, said: “As part of the technologies being developed in parallel with Project Tempest, I am delighted to reveal that in concert with Rolls-Royce, Reaction Engines and BAE Systems, we are developing hypersonic propulsion systems, which will be designed and tested over the next 2 years, paving the way for the UK to become a centre of excellence in this technology and contribute to meeting future UK Defence needs.”

Air Vice Marshal Simon (Rocky) Rochelle, the chief of air staff capability, said the British, along with others, were looking at how to rapidly introduce such weapons into the RAF’s inventory.

Hillier said using the pre-cooler technology on the EJ-200 gas turbine engine, which currently powers the Typhoon fighter jet, was one option being considered.

“That’s the sort of idea that we are looking at for the moment, but you shouldn’t read into that we are somehow going to achieve a hypersonic Typhoon,” said Hillier.

At a briefing with reporters following his speech, Hillier said it was too early to start talking about a platform being earmarked for a hypersonic power plant.

He did, however, say that it was “part of the technologies being developed in parallel with Project Tempest,” Britain’s sixth-generation fighter program.

Rolls-Royce to Develop Hypersonic Technology

Issue 86