Innoveering LLC, ( based in Ronkonkoma NY, has won a U.S. Defense Department contract valued at $10 million toward development of a dual-mode ramjet engine that could be used to power hypersonic aircraft. The Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, contracted for the work.

Hypersonic aircraft, which can fly at more than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5), have been a dream of engineers for decades, but technical issues have stalled their adoption. According to Robert Bakos, co-founder and principal at Innoveering, the contract calls for Innoveering to “mature” a preliminary dual-mode ramjet design and conduct testing.

A ramjet has no moving parts. It directs air flowing at high speed into an inlet and ignites it with small amounts of fuel. Ramjets must be accelerated to high speeds, around Mach 3, and then can operate efficiently up to Mach 5. A dual-mode engine, however, can change its cycle to operate as a scramjet. Unlike a ramjet, whose engine slows the internal airflow to subsonic speeds, a scramjet allows a supersonic airflow through its engine. Scramjets can reach hypersonic speeds, exceeding Mach 5. Bakos said that a turbine jet could be added to a dual-mode ramjet design, allowing the craft to land on a conventional runway.

The United States, Russia and China have been racing to develop missiles and artillery shells that travel at hypersonic speeds. Last year Boeing unveiled a concept for a commercial airliner with a dual-mode ramjet.
Innoveering, founded in 2012, has 29 employees and performs research and development efforts funded by the US Air Force, NASA, DARPA, US Army, US Navy, and the Department of Energy.