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Rolls-Royce has been awarded a contract to develop hypersonic propulsion systems for increased aircraft performance and capability, the company announced on 17 July.

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) intends to place a single sourced contract, of approx. two years’ duration, for a UK programme to undertake design studies, research, development, analysis and experimentation relating to high-Mach advanced propulsion systems. The contract will be with Rolls-Royce Plc and its technology partners, BAE Systems and Reaction Engines, focusing on enabling technologies for increased aircraft performance and capability.

As part of the technologies being developed in parallel with Project Tempest, I am delighted to reveal that in concert with Rolls-Royce, Reaction Engines and BAE Systems, we are developing hypersonic propulsion systems, which will be designed and tested over the next two years, paving the way for the UK to become a centre of excellence in this technology and contribute to meeting future UK Defence needs,” revealed Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, at the 2019 Air and Space Power Conference.

Rolls-Royce will work closely with the UK MoD and our partners BAE Systems and Reaction Engines to conduct and coordinate research into high-Mach advanced propulsion systems […] Going forward, this collaboration will allow us to focus on enabling innovative technologies for increased aircraft performance and capability,” added Rolls-Royce Director Business Development and Future Programmes, Alex Zino.

A joint industry statement by the three companies welcomed the initiative. “By bringing together acknowledged aerospace innovation capability from British companies, Rolls-Royce, Reaction Engines and BAE Systems, critical high-Mach propulsion technology elements will be developed over the next two years, paving the way for a UK centre of excellence in this technology and contributing to meeting UK MoD future defence needs […] This work highlights the importance of collaboration with our partners and will allow us to focus on developing innovative technologies for increased aircraft performance and capability.”

Partnership between the MoD and leading industrial companies will characterise the development programme over the next two years. (Image via Rolls-Royce)

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