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Air Force Signs Contract To Make The President's Plane Hypersonic

That the president should be able to travel around the country with ease and in safety, with the ability to keep working while in motion, is perfectly reasonable. Sometimes the president just needs to be on the ground in a spot that's not always convenient to get to from Washington, as in the case of a large-scale natural disaster, for example.

And, in the foreseeable future, the president could be able to cross the lower 48 states in about an hour if the Air Force's plans come together.

A hypersonic Air Force One isn't just a plan, however. It's already in the works.

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The U.S. Air Force and the Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate have set the development of an Air Force One capable of reaching Mach 5 on track, officially investing in aerospace innovator Hermeus's designs for commercial hypersonic flight, according to a press release.

Hermeus made waves in the aerospace industry in 2019 after announcing its intention to make a hypersonic commercial jet.

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The proposed jet would be able reach cruising speeds of about 3,300 mph, which would cut the travel time from New York to Paris from seven hours to just 1.5, as Ars Technica reported.

That seems to have caught the U.S. government's eye as well, and a successful test of Hermeus's prototype engine, which the company designed and built from scratch in nine months, cinched the deal.

A presidential hypersonic jet is still quite a ways off.

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Boeing is expected to deliver the next upgrade for the president's plane, a 747-8, next year. Hermeus, meanwhile, has yet to build a prototype plane, although it expects to have a demonstrator constructed within the next five years.

The company doesn't expect to have to develop much in the way of new tech to make their hypersonic dreams reality, either. "We aren't getting into anything too miraculous," Skyler Shuford, COO of Hermeus, told Ars Technica. "We want to do engineering, not science."

Nevertheless, government officials are excited about the possibilities on the horizon.

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"Leaps in capability are vital as we work to complicate the calculus of our adversaries. By leveraging commercial investment to drive new technologies into the Air Force, we are able to maximize our payback on Department of Defense investments," said Brigadier General Ryan Britton, Program Executive Officer for Presidential and Executive Airlift in a press release.

"The Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate is proud to support Hermeus in making this game-changing capability a reality as we look to recapitalize the fleet in the future."

h/t: Ars Technica