Hypersonic plane startup Hermeus gets $60M contract with Air Force

Credit: Hermeus

Credit: Hermeus

Hermeus, a hypersonic plane startup based in Doraville, won a $60 million contract with the Air Force for flight testing.

The company is working to develop an aircraft that could fly at five times the speed of sound, to go from New York to Paris in 90 minutes instead of more than 7 hours today. Such a prospect is still years from becoming a reality.

Hermeus will use the money to test the engine of its proposed autonomous high-speed aircraft called Quarterhorse. The contract allows three years to do that and develop, build and test a concept aircraft.

The Air Force said the contract is an effort by its Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate to fuel a resurgence of high-speed passenger travel and to have options for “senior leader transport.”

The military branch also wants to speed development of technology it could use for future missions. One objective in the contract is for Hermeus to provide “wargaming inputs” for Air Force strategic analysis.

“We are transforming the Air and Space Force into an early-stage ‘investor’ that leverages private capital, accelerates commercialization of technology and grows the number of companies,” said Nathan Diller, director of an Air Force Research Laboratory technology directorate.

The new contract follows $1.5 million Hermeus got last year to work toward hypersonic travel for the Department of Defense, and a NASA partnership announced earlier this year.

The partnerships show “there are both commercial and defense applications for what we’re building,” said Hermeus CEO AJ Piplica.