Low boom supersonic transport company Exosonic has been awarded a contract by the US Air Force (USAF) to develop a low boom supersonic uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) demonstrator. This vehicle will demonstrate cutting-edge technologies directly relevant to Exosonic’s quiet supersonic airliner and will be used to provide next-gen combat drones for fighter pilot training.
Due to constrained training budgets and a pilot shortage, the USAF cannot efficiently produce new, fully-trained fighter pilots. As a result, a limited number of fighter pilots are receiving the adequate amount of live air training necessary to be prepared to defend the country against near-peer adversaries.
When fully developed, the new supersonic UAV will help the pilot training mission by acting as a near-peer adversary fighter to challenge fighter pilots in live flight training. Supersonic UAVs will be equipped with various payloads and sensors and will free up pilots and aircraft for other duties and reduce wear-and-tear on existing USAF operational aircraft that serve as aggressors.
In addition to demonstrating technologies directly relevant to Exosonic’s quiet supersonic airliner, the vehicle will also be used to build a short-term path to revenue. The company plans to reinvest the profits from UAV sales to fund future supersonic product developments, such as the airliner.
“Our vision at Exosonic is to fly people supersonic everywhere with our airliner designed to fly supersonic overland with a muted sonic boom,” says Exosonic’s CEO Norris Tie. “The supersonic UAV work is critical to our company’s strategy due to how much we’ll learn about designing, manufacturing, and maintaining supersonic airplanes with our first UAV products. The UAV is also important to our company’s longevity. It will provide profits that we can funnel back into our company and give investors, suppliers, and customers confidence that we can deliver supersonic aircraft to the market before anyone needs to make a multi-billion dollar investment.”
Exosonic will continue to explore more applications for its supersonic UAVs to help the DoD’s mission to modernize in the face of upcoming near-peer adversary threats. It will also use the UAV for its own purposes: to test its low boom technology in flight.
The period of performance for this Direct to Phase II Contract is 15 months.