The U.S. Department of Defense and the Australian Department of Defence today announced a bilateral effort to advance the development of air-breathing hypersonic technologies.
The Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE) is an Allied Prototyping Initiative (API) under the Directorate for Advanced Capabilities within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. The Department of the Air Force, under the direction of the Weapons Program Executive Officer, is responsible for the execution of the program.
The SCIFiRE effort aims to cooperatively advance air-breathing hypersonic technologies into full-size prototypes that are affordable and provide a flexible, long range capability, culminating in flight demonstrations in operationally relevant conditions. The effort will also pursue potential co-production opportunities between the two countries, and leverages U.S. and Australian collaborative hypersonic activities over the last 15 years, namely the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HIFiRE) program. SCIFiRE continues collaborative research efforts involving the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, the Royal Australian Air Force Headquarters, and the Australian Defence Science and Technology Group.
SCIFiRE is the second effort announced under the Allied Prototyping Initiative, which was launched in 2019 by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering through its Advanced Capabilities directorate. API leverages new and existing frameworks for international cooperation in research and development, so that the U.S. and its closest Allies can co-develop high impact operational prototypes and capitalize on the use of the industrial base within both countries.
The Pentagon recently re-wrote rules for acquisition — the 5000-series of policy — to make it easier to more quickly deliver hypersonic weapons, and race ahead of Russia and China.