This New Mk 0 Plane Is Now Another Step Closer To Breaking The SR-71 Blackbird’s Speed Record

Quarterhorse Mark 0, the first fully-integrated prototype vehicle from Hermeus, an inventive aerospace business, has just finished ground testing. Hermeus is always striving to push the boundaries of aeronautical technology. This is a major step toward the audacious objective of surpassing the global speed record set in 1976 by the storied Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird spyplane.

The air-breathing speed of the SR-71 Blackbird, a marvel of its day, broke records when it reached an incredible Mach 3.3. Now, almost fifty years later, Hermeus hopes to equal, if not exceed, this incredible achievement. The goal of the Quarterhorse project is to bring 1960s technology into the twenty-first century, not to recreate it.

In order to accomplish this enormous undertaking, Hermeus intends to construct four prototypes, each with a distinct purpose. At the US Air Force’s Arnold Engineering Development Complex in Tullahoma, Tennessee, ground testing of the first of these prototypes, the Quarterhorse Mark 0, has just concluded. This first prototype, albeit not intended for flight, completed crucial taxiing tests, evaluating radio frequency latency, ground handling, remote control systems, and the craft’s self-handling capability in the event of a radio link failure.

The subsequent prototypes will delve into the development of a remote takeoff and landing system, breaking the sound barrier, and ultimately surpassing Mach 3.3. Hermeus believes that working on multiple airframes simultaneously helps spread the risk of failure, allows engineers to focus on specific objectives, and accelerates overall development.

The next iteration, Quarterhorse Mark 1, is slated for later this year. Hermeus CEO and co-founder, AJ Piplica, emphasized the importance of rapid and iterative design, stating, “Leveraging rapid and iterative design is how Hermeus will accelerate aircraft development on timelines that are relevant to our customers.” The company envisions test campaigns measured in days instead of months or years, highlighting the necessity to mature hypersonic technology swiftly and deliver transformative aircraft. As the aerospace industry eagerly anticipates further developments, the Quarterhorse project could well usher in a new era of airspeed achievements, breaking the longstanding record set by the SR-71 Blackbird.

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