A team led by The Johns
Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), in Laurel, Md., successfully
conducted the first-ever ground test of a full-scale, fully integrated hypersonic
cruise missile engine using conventional liquid hydrocarbon fuel, May 30, at
NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia. The APL-invented Dual Combustion Ramjet
(DCR) engine concept being tested forms the basis for a hypersonic strike missile
concept being developed under the newly initiated Hypersonic Flight (HyFly)
Demonstration Program – a joint effort between DARPA (Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency) and ONR (Office of Naval Research). HyFly is aimed at flying
a high-speed, long-range hypersonic air-breathing test vehicle. Such technology
could be used to develop a future high-speed strike weapon to engage and defeat
time-critical, heavily defended, hardened or buried targets while keeping forces
farther from harm.

The May 30th test, simulating
realistic cruise conditions for a hypersonic vehicle operating at 90,000 feet
at a speed of Mach 6.5, demonstrated robust engine operation. It’s the first
in a series of tests to fully characterize the engine’s performance at speeds
of Mach 6.0 and above. Tests later this summer2 the Arnold Engineering Development
Center (AEDC) in Tenn., will verify operation at Mach 3.5-4.0 flight conditions
simulating takeover after a rocket boost.

“This is the first time
a full-scale, scramjet missile engine has been tested with conventional, liquid
hydrocarbon fuel where the complete engine flowpath is fully installed in a
missile configuration. This has enabled us to measure for the first time net
positive thrust for an installed hydrocarbon fueled scramjet engine. This is
a major milestone for the hypersonic community and it’s the product of a real
team effort between DARPA, ONR, APL, Boeing, Aerojet and NASA,” says Mike White,
APL program area manager for Advanced Vehicle Technologies. “APL conducted combustor
developmental testing and worked with Boeing to refine the DCR inlet design.
Aerojet built the freejet engine we’re now testing. Our current freejet tests
are the transition element between ground-test development performed under the
ONR Hypersonic Weapon Technology Program and the joint HyFly flight demonstration
program.” Boeing and Aerojet have now taken over responsibility for the DCR
flight demonstrator under HyFly.

“The dual combustion ramjet
engine concept is the enabling technology for a future high-speed strike weapon,”
according to a joint statement, included within a DARPA press release announcing
the test, issued by Rear Adm. Jay Cohen, chief of Naval Research and Dr. Tony
Tether, director of DARPA. “A hypersonic strike weapon has the potential to
transform our nation’s armed forces to meet future warfighting needs. HyFly
is a leading element of DoD’s National Aerospace Initiative to demonstrate advanced
hypersonic technologies.”

Earlier this fiscal year,
DARPA and ONR joined forces in the 4-year HyFly program to demonstrate, in flight,
a missile concept capable of flying at speeds up to Mach 6.5 at ranges of 600
nautical miles using liquid hydrocarbon fuels, which are non-toxic and safe
to carry aboard ships. The missile concept being developed can also cruise at
Mach 4.0, extending the range to over 800 nautical miles.

Current testing verifies
very robust, high performance Mach 6.5 operation of the engine using room-temperature,
liquid JP-10 fuel. “The engine test just completed demonstrated robust engine
operation over a broad range of fuel flows that transitioned the engine from
supersonic combustion to dual-mode combustion operation during this single test,”
says Don Messit, Aerojet’s lead propulsion engineer for DCR. “The JP-10 fuel
we are using for DCR is the same fuel that is currently used in the Tomahawk
cruise missile and already approved for shipboard use,” according to Gil Graff,
ONR program manager for Weapon Technology and deputy program manager for HyFly.

Development of the DCR
engine concept continues through 2002 with freejet engine tests and complementary
direct-connect combustor tests at APL’s Avery Advanced Technology Development
Laboratory. “We’re continuing to conduct full-scale, direct-connect combustor
tests in parallel with the freejet tests to obtain a more complete picture of
the total engine performance,” says Steve D’Alessio, APL’s project manager for
the DCR engine. “We’ve conducted over 100 runs simulating Mach 6.0-6.5 conditions
in preparation for the freejet tests. We’re now testing at conditions simulating
Mach 3.0-4.0 in our direct-connect facility prior to testing the full-scale
freejet model at AEDC later this summer.”

Flight tests of HyFly’s
demonstrator vehicle will begin in late 2003 with demonstration of a surrogate
submunition deployment in March 2004. Powered flights at Mach 4.0 will begin
in November 2004 and at Mach 6.0 a year later. A total of 11 flights (eight
will be powered) will be conducted in a “fly early, fly often” program approach
geared toward managing risk while achieving program performance goals.

As lead technical agent
for DARPA and ONR throughout this program, APL provides technical advisory support
to program management and to the government and industry team executing the
program. “APL has nearly a 60-year heritage in the development of high-speed
guided-missile technology,” says White. “We’re applying our long-term expertise
in this area to help a team of government and industry experts succeed in transitioning
this technology to industry for development of a high-speed strike weapon.”

Media Contact

Kristi Marren
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Laurel, MD 20723

Phone: 240-228-6268 or 443-778-6268
E-mail: kristi.marren@jhuapl.edu