Future Trends

Defense Innovation Unit Seeking Input on HyCAT Follow-On Initiative

Hypersonic jet

Defense Innovation Unit Seeking Input on HyCAT Follow-On Initiative

The Defense Innovation Unit is seeking input from the commercial sector about available technologies and payloads that can be integrated into its prototype hypersonic test jet.

The DIU recently issued an area of interest solicitation as a follow-on to the Hypersonic and High-Cadence Airborne Testing Capabilities initiative launched in September. For the follow-on, dubbed HyCAT: Transformative Technologies, the agency needs technologies that would take advantage of modular payloads.

The DIU is looking for information on various technologies, including low-cost materials and manufacturing techniques, propulsion technologies and communications systems, Breaking Defense reported.

The AOI solicitation also stated that HyCAT II prototype vendors could integrate their solutions onto HyCAT I flight test vehicles or other platforms managed by the Department of Defense.

The DIU hopes that the effort would reduce reliance on wind tunnels, which a 2021 Government Accountability Office report described as antiquated. The agency also hopes that HyCAT II can help overcome gaps in current land- and sea-based flight test ranges that cause development delays.

The effort is one of several initiatives across the Defense Department to develop hypersonics. The U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force have successfully tested their hypersonic weapons platforms while the Air Force Research Laboratory plans to demonstrate a low-cost hypersonic aircraft for ISR and strike missions under its Mayhem project.

AFRL awarded a multi-company team led by Leidos a $334 million Mayhem project contract to design an aircraft that can surpass current hypersonic systems in range and payload capacity.

Meanwhile, HyCAT I sought to look for companies that can demonstrate a test aircraft that can achieve speeds beyond Mach 5 while carrying two experimental payloads. HyCAT I also called on companies to test long-endurance flights and capture in-flight performance data.

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Category: Future Trends