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Gillian Bussey: DOD Eyes Reusable Hypersonic Aircraft

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Gillian Bussey, director of the joint hypersonics transition office at the Department of Defense, said DOD is interested in reusable hypersonic vehicles and space launch systems, Breaking Defense reported Wednesday.

“In terms of reusables from a military perspective … the fastest air-breathing manned jet engine or jet powered systems were spy planes, so SR-71,” Bussey said Monday during her speech at a conference.

“One can imagine going faster and having a hypersonic spy plane. You can imagine a reusable system that can fly around and drop payloads and come back, or a hypersonic system that can carry other hypersonic systems,” she added.

Bussey said she believes DOD should set a clear direction for applications it wants to invest in amid a plethora of ideas when it comes to reusable hypersonics.

She discussed the four phases of the Pentagon’s hypersonic research strategy and cited that most of the projects are in “phase two, shifting to phase three.” Phase 2 focuses on the development of defensive and offensive system prototypes, while Phase 3 deals with the deployment of elements of platforms in limited quantities.

Bussey said the U.S. Army’s Long Range Hypersonic Weapon program is close to reaching the third phase. “We’re looking at having that fielded in the next year or two,” she said of LRHW.

She added that 37 science and technology projects valued at about $53.4 million have been selected by her office for investment and that her organization is more focused on how to make weapon systems operational and effective against targets.

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