What you need to know

The United States Air Force is advancing the development of Project Mayhem, a pioneering effort to create a bomber capable of reaching and maintaining hypersonic speeds in excess of Mach 10.

The project aims to overcome current speed limitations, establishing itself beyond the effective range of air interceptors, enemy missiles and ground defences. In a context where technological superiority defines supremacy in the modern theater of operations, speed emerges as a critical parameter for survival and effectiveness in strategic penetration missions.

As reported by the specialized site Popular Mechanics, Project Mayhem focuses on the exploitation of extreme speed as a defensive measure against a sophisticated spectrum of emerging threats. This is a response to the identification of similar capabilities in potential adversaries, as demonstrated by the Russian-made Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic missile system, which is capable of operating at impressive speeds with a unit cost of more than $100 million.

Project Mayhem’s design proposes to overcome these challenges with the aim of reaching speeds of Mach 10, a goal that includes experiencing extreme conditions of friction and aerodynamic resistance. The application of model based engineering (MBE) is presented as a key solution for the digital design of this advanced airborne system.

Frank Serna, senior director of strategic systems at Draper, highlights the complexity and innovation required for this process.

Toward hypersonic supremacy: Project Mayhem revealed

Melee Hypersonic Military Aircraft: What You Need to KnowMelee Hypersonic Military Aircraft: What You Need to Know

In a significant boost to hypersonic development, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) awarded a $334 million contract to the company Leidos for the design of a hypersonic air breathing system.

The project, which has an expected duration of 51 months, includes the initial stages of requirements review and conceptual design, with initial funding of $24 million. Steve Cook, president of Dynarics at Leidos, highlights his team’s commitment and experience in the hypersonic field, saying the project is critical to national security.

The collaboration between Draper and Leidos marks the beginning of the digital design phase of this revolutionary hypersonic bomber, highlighting the transformative potential of the scramjet engine. These engines, which optimize air flow compression at high speeds, require innovations such as the combined cycle scramjet to achieve operating efficiency over a wide range of speeds.

Chris Combs, a hypersonics expert and professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Texas at San Antonio, highlights the disruptive impact these advancements are having on air transportation and defense.

Redefining air combat: Project Mayhem raises the bar

Melee Hypersonic Military Aircraft: What You Need to KnowMelee Hypersonic Military Aircraft: What You Need to Know

Project Mayhem marks an evolution in the engineering military aviation paradigm, allowing the hypersonic bomber to take off and reach speeds of Mach 3 using a conventional propulsion system before activating its scramjet engines to exceed Mach 5. .

This technological advancement provides unprecedented operational capabilities, allowing Mayhem to execute strike missions with conventional weapons or conduct reconnaissance in hostile airspace, all the while accessing and landing within standard airport infrastructure. Maintains capacity.

Hypersonic missile technology revealed by the Russian arsenal in 2018 symbolizes the future of armed conflicts, pushing low-velocity conventional weapons into the background. With the goal of modernizing existing arsenals, Project Mayhem aims to incorporate this hypersonic capability into conventional weapons and air-to-air and surface-to-air warfare tactics without the excessive costs associated with single-track missiles. Promises revolution. Use.

Mayhem’s unmanned configuration makes it a strategic asset capable of penetrating into adversary territory to execute precision strikes or collect critical information while assuming high operational risks without compromising human lives. This design not only maximizes offensive capability, but also preserves the integrity of operational forces by reducing threat exposure.

At the forefront of technology: Challenges and solutions in the hypersonic era

Melee Hypersonic Military Aircraft: What You Need to KnowMelee Hypersonic Military Aircraft: What You Need to Know

As the Mach 10 barrier approaches, the technical challenges become increasingly acute. The vehicle must withstand extreme temperatures generated by atmospheric friction, requiring innovations in materials and design that were unimaginable until recently.

The adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing has been instrumental in overcoming these barriers, allowing the creation of components capable of withstanding unprecedentedly severe operating conditions.

Jack O’Banion, vice president of strategy and customer requirements for advanced development programs, reflects this progress clearly: “Five years ago, attempting to build an (engine) could have resulted in its complete destruction. Now, thanks to digital printing and innovative cooling systems integrated into the engine structure, repeated and reliable use is possible.

Deceleration and landing after reaching hypersonic speeds present another set of technical challenges, requiring versatile propulsion systems that guarantee safe operation across the entire speed spectrum from takeoff to landing.

This holistic approach to design ensures that Project Mayhem not only redefines the speed limits of air combat, but also sets new standards for functionality and operational efficiency in the hypersonic era.

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