Exosonic and Hermeus have recently won USAF Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate contracts to develop supersonic and hypersonic aircraft, respectively, as potential transports for the President and other top U.S. leaders. Hermeus is working on this Mach 5, 20-passenger aircraft that could shorten the trip from New York to London to 90 minutes. (Photo: Hermeus)

USAF Issues Contracts For Supersonic Air Force One

Two relatively unknown developers have been tasked with transporting POTUS to meetings faster than the speed of sound.

Exosonic and Hermeus—relatively unknown developers of faster-than-the-speed-of-sound passenger aircraft—recently were awarded separate contracts by the U.S. Air Force’s Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate to develop executive transports that could be used as Air Force One. The former company is working on a 70-passenger supersonic airplane, while the latter is developing a 20-seat hypersonic airplane.

The contract recently awarded to Exosonic is for the company’s low-boom, Mach 1.8 twinjet, which would fly U.S. leaders up to 5,000 nautical miles nonstop, allowing them to more quickly meet with world leaders or react to developing situations.

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Meanwhile, Hermeus’s USAF award granted for its Mach 5 airplane comes under an “other transaction for prototype agreement direct to Phase II contract” after the company successfully tested a hypersonic engine prototype in February. The company said it has taken an “off-the-shelf gas turbine engine and operated it at flight speed conditions faster than the famed SR-71.” Though performance and specification data for its Mach 5 jet are scant, it claimed the aircraft will be able to fly from New York to London in about 90 minutes.

Neither company has yet provided development timelines for these airplanes.