15-Month SBIR Contract to Develop Demonstrator
The US Air Force has awarded a 15-month Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract to Los Angeles-based Exosonic to develop a low boom supersonic UAS demonstrator, the company announced on 7 October.
The aircraft, intended to aid the USAF in its pilot training mission, will demonstrate technologies directly relevant to Exosonic’s quiet supersonic airliner and build a short-term path to revenue. The company plans to reinvest the profits from UAS sales to fund future supersonic product developments, such as the airliner.
“The supersonic UAV work is critical to our company’s strategy, due to how much we’ll learn about designing, manufacturing, and maintaining supersonic airplanes with our first UAV products. The UAV is also important to our company’s longevity. It will provide profits that we can funnel back into our company and give investors, suppliers, and customers confidence that we can deliver supersonic aircraft to the market before anyone needs to make a multi-billion dollar investment,” commented Exosonic CEO, Norris Tie.
The aircraft will help the pilot training mission by acting as a near-peer adversary fighter, to challenge fighter pilots in live flight training. Due to constrained training budgets and a pilot shortage, only a limited number of pilots receive adequate live air training to be prepared to confront near-peer adversaries. Exosonic’s supersonic UAS will serve as a mock adversary to stress fighter pilots, and will feature various payloads and sensors, enabling training at a fraction of the cost of existing live air training solutions. In addition to conserving training dollars, this would reduce wear-and-tear on existing operational aircraft serving as aggressors.
In addition to working with the USAF, Exosonic is working with government contractors, such as Tactical Air Support, to understand how pilot training can be improved. Jim DiMatteo, Director of Communications and F-5 ADAIR pilot said, “Tactical Air Support is excited to see an emerging supersonic UAV platform that can operate jointly with a piloted contract adversary like the Tactical Air Support F-5 Advanced TIGER. These expanded capabilities will significantly enhance the DoD Blue forces training at a reduced cost.”