U.S., Australia Partner to Develop Air-Breathing Hypersonic Vehicles

The U.S. Department of Defense and the Australian Department of Defence announced a bilateral effort to advance the development of air-breathing hypersonic vehicles, Nov. 30.

The Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE) is an Allied Prototyping Initiative (API) under the Directorate for Advanced Capabilities within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)). The U.S. Department of the Air Force (DAF), under the direction of the Weapons Program Executive Officer, is responsible for the execution of the program.

“SCIFiRE is a true testament to the enduring friendship and strong partnership between the United States and Australia,” said Michael Kratsios, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. “This initiative will be essential to the future of hypersonic research and development, ensuring the U.S. and our allies lead the world in the advancement of this transformational warfighting capability.”

The SCIFiRE effort aims to cooperatively advance air-breathing hypersonic technologies into full-size prototypes that are affordable and provide a flexible, long range capability, culminating in flight demonstrations in operationally relevant conditions.

The effort will also pursue potential co-production opportunities between the two countries, and leverages U.S. and Australian collaborative hypersonic activities over the last 15 years, namely the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HIFiRE) program. SCIFiRE continues collaborative research efforts involving the U.S. Air Force (USAF), U.S. Navy, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Headquarters, and the Australian Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG).

“The SCIFiRE initiative is another opportunity to advance the capabilities in our Air Combat Capability Program to support joint force effects to advance Australia’s security and prosperity,” Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld AO, DSC, Chief of Air Force said. “Working with our Defence scientists here in Australia and our partners in the U.S. Air Force and across the U.S. Department of Defense on leading edge capabilities brings out the best in our Air Force team.”

SCIFiRE is the second effort announced under the Allied Prototyping Initiative, which was launched in 2019 by the OUSD(R&E) through its Advanced Capabilities directorate. API leverages new and existing frameworks for international cooperation in research and development, so that the U.S. and its closest Allies can co-develop high impact operational prototypes and capitalize on the use of the industrial base within both countries.



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