Blackswift may have emerged out of Lockheed Martin Skunk Works’ Falcon hypersonic technology demonstration, but DARPA is looking for competitive bids to design and build the unmanned demonstrator, issuing this solicitation in early March:
“The Tactical Technology Office (TTO) of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is soliciting proposals to develop an extended duration hypersonic testbed known as Blackswift. The Government seeks development of a reusable hypersonic testbed that utilizes an integrated air-breathing propulsion system.
This reusable testbed will be used to conduct a vigorous flight test campaign in which key enabling technologies are demonstrated and the operational envelope is incrementally expanded in successive flights. The testbed shall take-off and land under its own power using a conventional runway.
The ultimate flight demonstration shall consist of a powered take-off, climb and acceleration to a Mach 6+ cruise speed, sustain this Mach 6+ cruise speed in level flight for at least 60 seconds, demonstrate maneuverability by executing an aileron roll and land under its own power.
The Blackswift flight test program will consist of three Phases. Phase I will consist of preliminary design and risk reduction activities culminating with a Preliminary Design Review (PDR). Phase II will consist of detailed design, component maturation and system integration including subsystem verification testing, flight test planning and will culminate with a Critical Design Review (CDR). Testbed fabrication and flight testing will be accompished in Phase III.
The Blackswift flight test program is pursing development and demonstration of near-term (2012) capability. The Government is soliciting original conceptual flight testbed design approaches from the aerospace community that meet or exceed these objectives.”