Start-up Exosonic recently won a US Air Force (USAF) contract to develop a low-boom supersonic executive transport that could serve as a future “Air Force One”.
The USAF’s Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate said on 31 August that the company has a contract for an undisclosed amount to develop the aircraft. The US Air Force Research Laboratory is also involved in issuing the contract, according to a tweet from Exosonic.
The supersonic aircraft would “allow key decision makers and teams to travel around the world in half the time it takes now,” writes the Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate on Twitter.
The Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate manages US government executive transport aircraft, such as the VC-25A, a heavily-modified Boeing 747-200B that is popularly known by its call sign “Air Force One” when the president of the USA flies aboard.
Exosonic says it is “building a quiet, Mach 1.8, 70-seat supersonic passenger aircraft that can fly supersonically overland and over water with a muted sonic boom.” The company is also developing the aircraft as a supersonic commercial airliner, which it hopes to bring to market in the mid-2030s.
The company says its jet would be able to fly at supersonic speeds without the window-shattering noise of a sonic boom by using technology similar to NASA’s X-59 Quiet Supersonic Research Aircraft. Such technology is supposed to reduce sonic booms heard on the ground to a dampened thump, if the noise is heard at all.
Exosonic’s co-founder and chief executive Norris Tie previously worked at Lockheed Martin as an aeronautical engineer, where he worked on the “aerodynamics and propulsion testing” of the X-59, among other responsibilities, his LinkedIn profile says.
The disclosure of a low-boom supersonic jet development contract follows an announcement on 6 August that the USAF had granted Hermeus Corporation a $1.5 million contract to assess modifying the company’s in-development M5-capable jet into an aircraft for the Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate fleet.