Orbital ATK has entered a new DARPA contract to study the integration of turbine and hypersonic engine technologies into a new aircraft propulsion system under DARPA’s Advanced Full Range Engine (AFRE) program.
The AFRE program seeks to develop a new aircraft propulsion system that could operate over the full range of speeds from conventional runway low-speed takeoff through hypersonic flight and then back to a conventional landing. Systems that operate at hypersonic speeds potentially extend range and shorten response times, offering enhanced effectiveness compared to current military systems. The program will explore the concept of a combined cycle engine technology whereby during the flight, a turbine engine would operate up to supersonic speeds and a dual-mode ramjet would transition to hypersonic speed.
Aside from the AFRE program, Orbital ATK is developing rocket pulse motors to operate at extremely cold temperatures that provide increased range and flexibility for both tactical and defense application.