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Reaction Engines to work with Rolls Royce and RAF to develop reusable hypersonic tech

19 July 2022
The Business Magazine article image for: Reaction Engines to work with Rolls Royce and RAF to develop reusable hypersonic tech

Abingdon-based Reaction Engines, along with Rolls-Royce, the Royal Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO), the UK Government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the UK’s National Security Strategic Investment Fund (NSSIF) are to significantly enhance UK defence capabilities through the development of innovative, reusable hypersonic technologies.

The Hypersonic Air Vehicle Experimental (HVX) Programme aims to establish the UK as a leader in reusable hypersonic air systems.

HVX’s immediate objective is to build on existing technologies which can cut the cost of developing a reusable high-Mach/hypersonic air vehicle. Reaction Engines’ novel precooler and SABRE* combined-cycle engine technologies are key foundations for the programme.  In combination with Rolls-Royce’s world-beating gas turbine technology, this brings a formidable capability to take on the challenging problems inherent with hypersonic flight.

*SABRE – Synergetic Air Breathing Rocket Engine – is a new class of engine developed by Reaction Engines for propelling both high speed aircraft and spacecraft.

Supported by funding from NSSIF, a project team has been established to rapidly develop critical high-Mach/hypersonic technologies, including novel air-breathing propulsion, innovative thermal management systems and advanced vehicle concepts. A full-scale experimental engine test campaign has begun.

The programme is also undertaking design work on experimental hypersonic vehicle concepts, unveiling “Concept V”, a single engine hypersonic concept vehicle at the Farnborough International Air Show.

The HVX Programme is expected to expand to include other leading aerospace companies to make the most of additional expertise is deployed to support the delivery of this breakthrough technology. The programme also aims to ensure that the technologies developed can be used by other high Mach/hypersonic applications, having synergy with space access and rapid point-to-point transportation.

Air Vice-Marshal Linc Taylor, Chief of Staff Air Capability, Royal Air Force, said: “This activity presents a unique opportunity to experiment with pioneering UK technology to inform the art of the possible and challenge traditional views on the cost and time associated with development and fielding of high-Mach platforms. This partnership benefits from a series of aligned initiatives, integrating world class skills and technologies on a series of near-term experimentations to inform our future capability planning.”

Mark Thomas, Chief Executive of Reaction Engines, said: “Reaction Engines is excited to be leading this ambitious, future-focused, programme with the Rapid Capabilities Office and Strategic Partners, bringing together the best of the best in technology, talent and innovation, to provide the UK with a unique capability in reusable hypersonic systems.”

John Wardell, Director Future Programmes, of Rolls-Royce, said: “This collaboration will enable Rolls-Royce to work alongside Reaction Engines and our strategic partners to develop innovative technologies that will provide our customers with the equipment needed to meet their military requirements. The HVX Programme will bring together a unique opportunity to raise the UK’s profile in our ability to develop both the skills and technology in the fast evolving area.”

Steve Simm, Air Systems Programme Manager of Dstl, said: “Dstl is pleased to be involved in this exciting project, through three main aspects: use of MOD research funding to understand potential air system concepts and their feasibility; exploring potential operational utility of these concepts; maximising exploitation of the wider S&T Portfolio, such as the Hypersonics Weapons Research Programme.”

Nicky Godding is editor of The Business Magazine. Before her journalism career, she worked mainly in public relations moving into writing when she was invited to launch Retail Watch, a publication covering retail and real estate across Europe.

After some years of constant travelling, she tucked away her passport and concentrated on business writing, co-founding a successful regional business magazine. She has interviewed some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs who have built multi-million-pound businesses and reported on many science and technology firsts.

She reports on the region’s thriving business economy from start-ups, family businesses and multi-million-pound corporations, to the professionals that support their growth and the institutions that educate the next generation of business leaders.

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