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Air Force Taps Academia to Expand Hypersonic Testing Facilities

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The U.S. Air Force is partnering with Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame in Indiana to expand its testing facilities for future hypersonic technologies, Military.com reported Tuesday. Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek said the universities will build “quiet wind tunnels” to reduce free stream disturbances and for more accurate aerothermodynamics predictions.

Purdue and Notre Dame operate one hypersonic testing tunnel each and are developing additional facilities with the Air Force’s fiscal 2018 and 2019 funds. Notre Dame opened its first quiet, Mach 6-capable tunnel in November and plans to build tunnels to produce Mach 8 and Mach 10 flight speeds.

Purdue University is working with a team led by the University of Dayton Research Institute on a $9.8 million hypersonic research funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Air Force Secretary and 2019 Wash100 Award winner Heather Wilson said the service also started upgrading systems at Arnold Air Force Base in Tennessee, which operates over 55 aerodynamic and propulsion wind tunnels, rocket and turbine engine test cells.