Will AI Controlled Hypersonic Fighters Beat Sixth Generation Stealth?

Hermeus is a aviation startup that could be the Lockheed Skunkworks for this generation. They could develop a ultrafast mach 5+ hypersonic jet in record time. Later this year Hermeus is aiming to take their first subsonic flight and will fly at Mach 2.5 next year and then hypersonic before 2030.

They built a ramjet engine that can operate up mach 5 and operated it in a wind tunnel at mach 3.3. The actual prototype was made for less than $8 million in a few months. The speed of development can finally lead to working hypersonic fighters.

The next generation of AI and drones Anduril.

Nextbigfuture believes that Hermeus can succeed with hypersonic fighters which could then be combined with AI drones and swarm drone controls created by Shield AI and Anduril. Eventually, there could be some mergers that combine these next generation capabilities.

Hermeus completed testing of their full system hypersonic ground Mk0 test plane. It is a complete system made in 6 months and tested in 37 days. The fully-integrated vehicle, Quarterhorse Mk 0 is a non-flying prototype acted as a ‘dynamic iron bird’ for the company by validating all major aircraft subsystems in a real-world environment. It has been one year since the Hermeus had a ground test of their Chimera engine transitioning from turbojet to ramjet power. They need to build the successive airframes to hold their engines to reach hypersonic speeds.

The rapid development and innovations of the legendary Lockheed Skunkworks group had its peak achievements from 1950-1970 with the U2 Spyplane, the A12 prototype and the ultrafast Mach 3.5 SR71 Blackbird. Skunkworks then developed the first stealth bombers and fighters in the 1980s-1990s.

Hermeus is a new defense company but they have a multi-year Defense Intelligence Unit contract that will fund them through the financial valley of death.

The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) contract is to mature Hermeus hypersonic aircraft subsystem and mission system technology. Hermeus will utilize its commercial high-speed flight test prototype, Quarterhorse, to support technical maturation and risk reduction for future hypersonic aircraft. The contract is part of DIU’s Hypersonic and High-Cadence Airborne Testing Capabilities (HyCAT) initiative, which aims to utilize commercial flight test capabilities to expand the Department of Defense’s high-speed flight test capacity.

The multi-year award will feature Hermeus’ iterative approach to technology maturation and aircraft development. Through this contract, Hermeus will demonstrate key enabling technologies for hypersonic aircraft in relevant environments preparing them for introduction into future programs. These technologies include propulsion and propulsion integration; thermal management; power generation; and hypersonic mission system capabilities. This effort will transition the world’s fastest aircraft to an operational flight test capability for hypersonic capability experimentation, and validation.

Hermeus aims to develop hypersonic aircraft quickly and cost-effectively by integrating hardware-rich, iterative development with modern computing and autonomy. This approach has been validated through design, build, and test of the company’s first combined turbojet-ramjet engine and is now being scaled through its first flight vehicle program, Quarterhorse. Hermeus is also developing Darkhorse — an uncrewed hypersonic aircraft designed to deliver unique asymmetric capabilities to the warfighter.

3 thoughts on “Will AI Controlled Hypersonic Fighters Beat Sixth Generation Stealth?”

  1. We certainly have for some time been in the zone where the biggest limit on fighter craft performance is having a fragile human inside the plane. It’s quite possible an AI could be worse at tactics than a human pilot, and still win every dogfight just on the basis of being able to survive more violent maneuvers. Executing somewhat worse tactics much faster.

    The real challenge, based on current AI behavior, will be avoiding friendly fire accidents…

  2. This story might combine with SpaceX Starship and SpaceForce. Hypersonic AI piloted drone fighters and missiles delivered to combat by Starship from orbit (or ballistic arcs in Space for Starship alone). Hypersonic is easier if you start at orbital velocity and the problem is slowing down. Hypersonic craft that get delivered anywhere in less than an hour without using their own fuel are more effective.

  3. An Ace in every jet.

    Seeing “Augmented Autopilot” in the F-16s heading to Ukraine is a good bet.

    The Air Force has been flight/fight testing AI piloted F-16s for a while.

    Green Ukrainian pilots sitting in cockpits would be in control until the autopilot takes over to dodge a heat seeking missile before the pilot has finished a blink.

    Maybe watch for pilots wearing neck-bracing collars to avoid whiplash.

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