U.S. Air Force Releases RFI for “Mayhem” Hypersonic Demonstrator Program

The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has released a Request for Information (RFI) for a new hypersonic demonstrator under its Expendable Hypersonic Multi-Mission Air-Breathing Demonstrator (Mayhem) program.

Through the Mayhem program, the AFRL is interested in the design, fabrication, integration, and necessary research needed to enable a larger-scale expendable air-breathing hypersonic multimission flight demonstrator.

The Mayhem System Demonstrator (MSD) will need to be capable of carrying larger payloads over distances further than current hypersonic capabilities allow. The payload bay will be modular and capable of carrying/delivering at least three distinct payloads in order to execute multiple Government-defined mission sets.

According to the RFI, AFRL is considering the use of two multiple-award IDIQs to accomplish the Mayhem effort to increase industry involvement and benefit from focused tasking. The two Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts would be split into groups, each encompassing one propulsion system development and vehicle development and integration.

A breakout of the focus areas and a depiction of the contract structure for the AFRL Mayhem hypersonic weapon demonstrator program.

Each IDIQ contract group would share a single-cost ceiling with a multiple-award IDIQ contract scoped to each of the two focus areas: 1) larger scale propulsion development and flight-weight ground test and 2) air vehicle design and scramjet integration. Follow-on awards would include fabrication, flight test, and vehicle modification for integration of various payloads. Multiple-award IDIQ contracts would be planned under one solicitation.

Conceptually, two different air vehicle and two different propulsion contractors could be awarded each one of the multiple-award IDIQ contracts. Alternatively, a single contractor could be awarded both separate focus area contracts. Due to the nature of the research and focus areas, information sharing and resource sharing would be essential. As such, formation and agreement to an Associate Contractor Agreement (ACA) or a Consortium Agreement between the vehicle and propulsion contractors would be necessary.

Competition for future task order requirements after initial award is anticipated between the IDIQ contracts. The AFRL Program Manager may choose to order tasks from one of the two IDIQ contract groups based on the available funding and evidential progress towards achieving objectives.

AFRL has previously accomplished similar hypersonics research under multiple efforts including the Enhanced Operational Scramjet Technology effort, Enabling Technologies for High-speed Operable Systems (ETHOS) effort, High Speed Strike Weapon (HSSW) program, and Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) program.

The U.S. Air Force’s hypersonic missile development effort, the Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) program, has recently completed a milestone with the final captive-carry test of the AGM-183A ARRW missile under a wing of a B-52 Stratofortress bomber.

A U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bomber assigned to the 419th Flight Test Squadron takes off from Edwards Air Force Base, California, Aug. 8. The aircraft conducted a captive-carry flight test of the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) Instrumented Measurement Vehicle 2 (AGM-183A IMV-2) hypersonic prototype at the Point Mugu Sea Range off the Southern California coast. (USAF photo by Matt Williams)

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