The air battle is developing.
The U.S. Air Force has selected a transportation company to contract to develop a low-boom supersonic drone, which will become the first supersonic UAV to assist the Air Force in pilot training, according to a press release shared with IE. via e-mail.
And if the UAV demonstrator proves effective, it could contribute vital data to the research and eventual development of supersonic aircraft that can overcome the sound barrier without a destructive “boom.”
A supersonic UAV to play the bad guy for the US Air Force
Named Exosonic, Inc., the aerospace company has been awarded a contract with the United States Air Force (USAF) directly to Phase II to Investigate Small Business Innovation (SBIR) in partnership with the Air Force Command and the Air Force Research Laboratory, in addition to the Presidential and Executive Air Transport Directorate. The new car will demonstrate new technologies specifically required by Exosonic’s quiet supersonic aircraft, and will serve as a shortcut to generating new revenue. Once completed, the company aims to reinvest its UAV profits in the further development of upcoming supersonic products, such as aircraft.
“Our vision is to fly people [everywhere at] supersonic [speeds,] with our aircraft designed to fly supersonic land (sic) with a muffled sound boom, “Exosonic CEO Norris Thie said in an e-mail press release.” The operation of the supersonic UAV is crucial to our company’s strategy because of how much you learn about the design, manufacture and maintenance of supersonic aircraft with our first drone products. UAVs are also important for the longevity of our company. This will provide profits that we can transfer back to our company and give investors, suppliers and customers confidence that we can deliver supersonic aircraft to the market before anyone has to invest billions of dollars. “
Pilot training it may never be the same after the UAV is completed. It is expected to function as an almost equal opponent of fighter pilots to face live training, which could be crucial in preparing human pilots for the future of air combat. This is especially true in light of limited training budgets and the growing shortage of pilots, which has made the SJC unable to effectively train new, fully trained fighter pilots. This means that fewer fighter pilots receive adequate live air training in preparation for real-world rivals. To close this gap in training, Exosonic’s supersonic UAV will serve as a functional “enemy model” to generate high-stress scenarios for fighter pilots during live flying exercises.
Supersonic aircraft without the destructive “boom”
UAVs (and manned fighter jets) can be equipped with a variety of payloads and sensors, creating new training tools for a small number of conventional the cost of training fighter pilots (such as the Top Gun program). By lowering the cost of training fighter pilots, the U.S. Air Force could save taxpayers millions of dollars, in addition to reducing the wear and tear of existing U.S. Air Force operational aircraft, which are typically identified as mock opponents. This also means that fighter pilots will be able to focus their flight time on blue (friendly) air training, instead of having to play the aggressor during flight exercises.
“Tactical Air Support is excited to see an emerging supersonic unmanned aerial vehicle platform that can work with a manned adversary such as the Tactical Air Support F-5 Advanced Tiger,” said communications director Jim Di Matteo of government contractor Tactical Air Support, who is also a pilot of the F-5 ADAIR. With growing tensions abroad and several other countries demonstrating new advances in drone and unmanned aerial technology, in addition to artificial intelligence, supersonic drone training could transform the USAF into a 21st century war. And if Exosonic’s product line continues with further concepts, we can see soon commercial aircraft capable of reaching supersonic speeds without the destructive boom usually associated with faster-than-sound planes.