Reaction Engines Begins Testing Breakthrough High-Mach Propulsion Under US DOD Contract

Reaction Engines today revealed the start of a new testing campaign to expand the performance envelope of their high-Mach enabling technology through the Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT) Program at the Department of Defense and supported by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

The FCT Program is administered by the Directorate of Defense Research and Engineering for Advanced Capabilities and is focused on the discovery, assessment, and testing of leading foreign technology with the potential to satisfy U.S. Defense technical demands. The program seeks high Technology Readiness Level (TRL) technologies that could rapidly and economically satisfy current and emerging requirements. As described by William Reed, the Air Force FCT manager, “FCT demonstrates U.S. commitment to a ‘two-way street’ for defense procurements with both allied and friendly nations. Reaction Engines technology is world-class and is a great fit for the FCT program.”

Reaction Engines has successfully tested its innovative precooler at airflow temperature conditions representing Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, marking a significant milestone in the development of its SABRE™ engine and paving the way for a revolution in hypersonic flight and space access.

This ground-based test achieved the highest temperature objective of the Company’s HTX testing programme and took place at its specially constructed unique facility at the Colorado Air and Space Port, United States.

During the latest series of tests, Reaction Engines’ unique precooler successfully quenched airflow temperatures in excess of 1,000°C (~1,800°F) in less than 1/20th of a second. The tests demonstrated the precooler’s ability to successfully cool airflow at speeds significantly in excess of the operational limit of any jet-engine powered aircraft in history. Mach 5 is more than twice as fast as the cruising speed of Concorde and over 50% faster than the SR-71 Blackbird aircraft – the world’s fastest jet-engine powered aircraft.

This most recent test builds upon the success of previous HTX hot tests undertaken in April which saw the precooler successfully operate at temperatures of 420ᵒC (~788ᵒF) – matching the thermal conditions corresponding to Mach 3.3 flight.

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