New Defense Hub for Hypersonics R&D, Testing 

New Defense Hub for Hypersonics R&D, Testing 

Governor Eric J. Holcomb announced the U.S. Department of Defense will establish its Joint Hypersonics Transition Office (JHTO) Systems Engineering Field Activity in Indiana, accelerating research and development (R&D) and testing in hypersonic technologies at Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Crane Division.

“Today’s announcement is another signal to the world that Indiana is poised to be a leader in hypersonics, with strategic assets such as NSWC Crane and our world-class research institutions fueling growth and advancements in the field,” Governor Eric J. Holcomb said. “We’re excited the Department of Defense has chosen Indiana to establish its JHTO Systems Engineering Field Activity, and grateful to our state’s leaders in Washington D.C. and here at home for their commitment to increasing defense investment and opportunities in Indiana.”

Gov. Holcomb met virtually with Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Dr. Mark Lewis, JHTO Director Dr. Gillian Bussey and federal, state and military officials to inaugurate the JHTO Systems Engineering Field Activity. The new facility will allow the Department of Defense to develop and improve technologies and capabilities in hypersonics by utilizing NSWC Crane’s strategic assets and growing network of government, industry and academic partners. Thirty engineers and program managers will be located on-site at NSWC Crane to support the program.

The JHTO, which is headquartered at the Pentagon and overseen by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, will coordinate and integrate current and future hypersonic programs, develop strategies for transitioning hypersonic technologies into future capabilities, and establish a university consortium for hypersonics R&D and workforce development at its satellite activity office in Indiana. Hypersonics systems can travel at Mach 5 or higher, which is at least five times faster than the speed of sound.

“The JHTO and its Systems Engineering Field Activity present a signature opportunity for the Department,” said Dr. Lewis. “Leveraging the capabilities at NSWC Crane, we can not only develop effective hypersonic technologies, but we can also develop them affordably at the speed of relevance to our warfighters. Proactive engineering for affordable upgrades is critical to the long-term sustainability of these systems.”

Under Gov. Holcomb’s leadership, Indiana is committed to targeting growth in the state’s defense industry, increasing defense development opportunities and supporting industry-focused partnerships under the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. This strategic approach complements the state’s strong military presence and network of hypersonics assets, which include testing infrastructure at NSWC Crane and renowned hypersonics research capabilities at Purdue University and The University of Notre Dame.

“NSWC Crane has become a critical hub in the hypersonics development ecosystem,” said Rick Davidoff, acting director of the JHTO Systems Engineering Field Activity. “This exciting announcement is the culmination of the hard work and dedication of many people. The JHTO Field Activity at Crane will allow OSD to leverage earlier and ongoing investments at Crane to help all three Services improve their hypersonic weapons with more rapid, adaptable and modular upgrades. Indiana and the larger Midwest will have a long-term, critical role in this important national security mission.”

At NSWC Crane, the Department of Defense has invested more than $200 million to enhance its testing verification and validation capabilities in hypersonics, which feature an underwater launch test complex, a missile technology evaluation facility, an integrated Hardware-in-the-Loop and Software-in-the-Loop test bed, and a modeling and simulation lab. These facilities are managed by more than 300 hypersonics subject matter experts and model-based engineers.

Additionally, Purdue and Notre Dame are leaders in hypersonics-related R&D and testing. At Purdue, more than 50 faculty members are engaged in experimental and computational aero/aero-thermal dynamics, including hypersonic laminar-turbulent transition, at state-of-the-art facilities such as the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR)/Boeing Mach 6 quiet wind tunnel. The university is currently developing the world’s first quiet Mach 8 wind tunnel under a government contract with the Air Force Research Laboratory. At Notre Dame, the university’s Hypersonic Systems Initiative engages engineers and scientists to address technical challenges for developing hypersonic flight vehicles. More than 35 researchers across 10 subject areas support hypersonic systems research at the university. Notre Dame also houses a Mach 6 quiet wind tunnel with support of AFOSR and plans to develop a Mach 10 quiet wind tunnel in June 2022.

The U.S. Congress appropriated $100 million under the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2020 to the program. Members of Indiana’s congressional delegation expressed support for the announcement:

“I congratulate Governor Holcomb and all the leaders at NSWC Crane for successfully obtaining this federal funding,” said Rep. Pete Visclosky, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Defense Appropriations Committee. “Their dedicated work is proving that our state has an inherent role at the forefront of researching and producing on behalf of our nation’s defense.”

“The Department of Defense is realizing what so many around our state have long understood, that critical work occurring around Indiana is shaping the future of our national security,” said Sen. Todd Young. “This is further evidenced by today’s news that the DoD is locating the new Joint Hypersonic Transition Office Field Activity right here in Indiana. While legislative language that we secured in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act set the conditions for today’s announcement, I am especially grateful to the hard working Hoosiers whose efforts brought this home. I look forward to working with our partners around the state as this office is established and Indiana’s leadership role is solidified.”

“It was an honor to join Governor Holcomb and my fellow Hoosier colleagues today in celebrating the announcement of the Department of Defense’s Joint Hypersonics Transition Office Systems Engineering Field Activity to be located at NSWC Crane, which is in the Eighth Congressional District of Indiana,” said Rep. Larry Bucshon, M.D. “NSWC Crane is vital to the strength and security of our nation and plays a substantial role in providing critical technology for our nation’s warfighters. This announcement will further bolster our military and Indiana’s leadership in the development and deployment of hypersonic weapons to combat this new and dangerous threat.”

“I am proud of Indiana’s technical expertise in a field as important to our national security as hypersonics,” said Rep. Jim Banks. “NSWC Crane’s expanded role in the development and fielding of hypersonic weapons is an invaluable opportunity for our state, and I look forward to continuing to champion their work on the House Armed Services Committee.”

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