The U.S. Air Force and the Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate announced they have partnered with an Atlanta-based company called Hermeus to develop a hypersonic Air Force One.
The partnership will allow for the development of a hypersonic aircraft for the presidential fleet, that can travel as fast as Mach 5. Hermeus successfully tested a Mach 5 engine prototype earlier this year. A demonstrator vehicle using the Mach 5 engines could be seen within the next five years.
Mach 5 is about 3,300 mph, would travel 2.5x faster than the Aérospatiale/BAC Concorde and about 43% faster than the Virgin Galactic Holdings' proposed supersonic jet.
Here's an excerpt from the Hermeus press release describing the new contract to build a hypersonic Air Force One:
Hermeus Corporation, the aerospace company developing Mach 5 commercial aircraft, has partnered with the U.S. Air Force and the Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate to work toward hypersonic travel for the Department of Defense. This award comes under an Other Transaction For Prototype Agreement Direct to Phase II contract through AFWERX after Hermeus successfully tested a Mach 5 engine prototype in February 2020.
The effort is focused on rapidly assessing modifications to Hermeus Mach 5 aircraft to support the Presidential and Executive Airlift fleet. Early integration of unique Air Force requirements for high-speed mobility and evaluation of interfaces between high-speed aircraft and existing communications, airport, and air traffic control infrastructure lays the groundwork for a seamless transition to service. Additionally, Hermeus will prepare test plans to reduce technical risk associated with these modifications to support Air Force requirements. -Hermeus press release
Brigadier General Ryan Britton, Program Executive Officer for Presidential and Executive Airlift, commented on the project:
"Leaps in capability are vital as we work to complicate the calculus of our adversaries. By leveraging commercial investment to drive new technologies into the Air Force, we are able to maximize our payback on the Department of Defense investments. The Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate is proud to support Hermeus in making this game-changing capability a reality as we look to recapitalize the fleet in the future."
Hermeus' cofounders are ex-Blue Origin, SpaceX, and Generation Orbit could be the team that develops the first hypersonic aircraft for the president.