Pratt & Whitney Delivers F100 Engine to Hermeus for Darkhorse Hypersonic UAS

The F100 will propel the Darkhorse to speeds of around Mach 2.8, a ramjet will take over at the transition point, propelling Darkhorse to its target velocity of Mach 5 By Joseph Macey / 07 Jun 2023
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Hermeus has accepted its first F100 engine from Pratt & Whitney for integration into the enhanced Chimera ll turbine-based combined cycle (TBCC) propulsion system.

The powerful engine component marks a critical milestone in Hermeus’ development of Darkhorse hypersonic Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) which is set to unlock new possibilities in both military and commercial hypersonic applications.

Recognizing propulsion as the critical challenge in achieving hypersonic flight, Hermeus has been dedicated to the development of its proprietary turbine-based combined cycle (TBCC) engine architecture without diluting their efforts in reconstructing already proven and reliable components.

The F100 will propel the unmanned Darkhorse aircraft to speeds of approximately Mach 2.8. At this transition point, a ramjet will take over, propelling Darkhorse to its target velocity of Mach 5.

While developing Quarterhorse, a demonstrator vehicle designed for high-Mach flight testing, the Hermeus engine architecture has been proven through the first iteration of Chimera which utilizes the General Electric J85 as its core. Consistent with their fundamentals Hermeus has developed and manufactured in-house the other engine components including the inlet, precooler, ram burner, and bypass system. These elements will all be scaled up for integration into the advanced Chimera II. 

F100 J85 comparison

Darkhorse will serve as a multifaceted hypersonic vehicle aimed at meeting the needs of the Department of Defense and will act as a precursor to Hermeus’ visionary civil hypersonic transport design, Halcyon.

This collaboration between Hermeus and Pratt & Whitney brings together Pratt’s rich history in high-speed propulsion, stretching back to the development of engines like the J58 for the Mach 3-plus Lockheed SR-71, and Hermeus’ ambitious vision for the future of hypersonic aviation.

Hermeus expects the Quarterhorse will break the speed record of the SR-71 and Darkhorse will push the boundary even further.

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