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Hypersonic International Flight Research and Experimentation

Solicitation Number: RFI-08-10
Agency: Department of the Air Force
Office: Air Force Materiel Command
Location: AFRL/RQK - WPAFB
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Special Notice
Added: Oct 21, 2008 4:05 pm

1. Subject: The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory seeks information pertaining to the capability of U.S. industry to support the Air Force with the development and experimental validation of hypersonic technologies. In particular, support is sought for the development and flight test evaluation of one or more technology experiments. Respondents are encouraged to provide substantiation for both technical and programmatic approaches. Further, the potential of industry to collaborate with the Air Force through the leverage of existing resources and the provision of new resources is highly desirable.
2. Purpose: The purpose of the effort proposed herein is twofold: 1) to develop fundamental hypersonics technologies by resolving basic hypersonic phenomena and 2) to advance the aerospace design database. The product of this effort will be basic science data and performance analyses applicable to the design of next generation high speed strike weapons. The technical data to be collected from this program will be used to extend the verification of current design tools and further Air Force efforts to buy down risk in the development of future weapon systems. Further, this data may be employed to enhance future design and analysis tools that deliver increased accuracy and precision. This notice is not to be construed as an acquisition Request For Proposal (RFP), nor is any commitment on the part of the Government to award a contract implied, nor does the Government intend to pay for any information submitted as a result of this request. The Government does not intend to award a contract on the basis of this request or to otherwise pay for the information solicited except as an allowable cost under other contracts as provided in subpart 31.205-18, Independent Research and Development and Bid and Proposal Costs, of the Federal Acquisition Regulation. Any responses received will not be used as a proposal.
3. Deliverables: The objective of this RFI is to seek a description of a technical scope and programmatic approach to execute the hypersonic flight experiment as outlined below. The description shall include a notional vehicle geometry, inclusive of an assumed weight and aerodynamic performance; alternative test approaches that will accomplish the science objectives for the flight as outlined below; and a development strategy inclusive of an explanation of how the company would collaborate with AFRL to execute the flight experiment. This explanation shall include an estimate and breakdown of the financial resources and engineering manpower that would be required to execute the effort.
4. Background: The proposed research activity is to be executed in coordination with the Air Force's ''Hypersonic International Flight Research and Experimentation (HIFiRE)'' program. The United States Department of Defense (US DoD), as represented by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), and the Australian Department of Defence (AS DoD), as represented by the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), have secured authorization under Project Arrangement (PA) Number AF-06-0046 to conduct a $54M joint research and development program entitled "Hypersonic International Flight Research and Experimentation (HIFiRE)". The purpose of this program is to investigate fundamental hypersonic phenomena and accelerate the development of aerospace vehicle technologies deemed critical to long range precision strike. The program is managed by an integrated Program Management Office, addressing the tactical and strategic objectives of both countries. The project will culminate with the development and flight test of ten vehicles. The flight tests are to be launched using sounding rockets to test conditions representative of those to be incurred by hypersonic vehicles. The flight test evaluations will be conducted at the Woomera Prohibited Weapons Test Range in South Australia. The launch of the first experiments, designated Flight 0 Pathfinder experiment and Flight Vehicle 1 aero-sciences experiment, is scheduled for November 2008. These flights will provide principal validation of the experimental strategy. Further, the vehicle system's performance data from these activities will be made available to contractors to support the development of subsequent flights. The two flight tests that are proposed herein will support Air Force goals in basic and applied research in the areas aero-propulsion integration, configuration aerodynamics, and stability and control for air-breathing hypersonic vehicles. The data collected during the flights will aid the development and validation of computational models and design methods for scramjet-powered hypersonic vehicles, and will further be used to characterize and validate the operability predictions of a hypersonic vehicle with integrated aerodynamics and propulsion. The first flight test will investigate inlet on and off-design performance and characterization of the inlet un-starting and re-starting flow physics. This flight test will occur with an unpowered vehicle containing a representative scramjet internal flow path. The assessment of the inlet's off-design performance will simultaneously capture the effects of the inlet and flow path aerodynamics on the stability and control characteristics of the flight test vehicle. The data collected during this portion of the flight experiment shall be used for the characterization of the uncertainties in the vehicle's lift, drag, and stability and control characteristics due to the flow path. Possible secondary test objectives relating to leading edge aerothermodynamics, aerodynamic heating prediction, and the performance of advanced materials and thermal protection systems may be accommodated during the flight test. It is expected that the second flight test will focus on the performance of the integrated airframe and propulsion system.
Consistent with the program, a ground launch system consisting of a low-cost, two-stage sounding rocket will boost the test vehicle to the desired test window. The vehicle will then separate from the second stage of the vehicle and continue in free flight under autonomous control for the duration of the flight experiment. As envisioned, the vehicles will be launched on a suppressed trajectory to accommodate a test window that ranges from approximately Mach 5 to Mach 9 to study the operability of the inlet over a range of Mach numbers. It is expected that the first flight test will occur in approximately 2011-2012 time frame. Any follow on flight tests will occur in subsequent years pending the availability of government and/or industry resources to support the manufacture of the flight test vehicles, purchase of the launch system, and the execution of the flight test.
1. Vehicle Description: The experimental payload shall be designed to ensure the mission can be effectively executed, and the experimental objectives attained, from launch to the desired test conditions aboard a two-stage Pedro-Oriole class launch system. The flight test vehicle shall incorporate a three-dimensional, streamline-traced inlet that exhibits significant influence on the external aerodynamic characteristics. The vehicle shall also be capable of full three axis control with aerodynamic control surfaces sized to appropriately to minimize trim drag and trim deflection. The vehicle shall also be designed to later accommodate a fuel system in order to support the assessment of integrated propulsion system operability. It is expected that during the execution of this project that neither the vehicle configuration nor the inlet/flowpath will be subjected to ground testing, and that the internal and external aerodynamics and flight dynamics of the vehicle will be determined solely via digital simulation.
2. Experiment Sequence: Following separation of the vehicle from the second-stage booster, the flight test vehicle will de-spin to zero degrees roll angle and acquire the test trajectory. The vehicle will execute a series of parameter identification maneuvers in order to study the effects of angle-of-attack and sideslip on the inlet performance and to identify the vehicle's stability and control characteristics. At a pre-determined Mach number, it is tentatively planned to have the vehicle experience a forced unstart of the inlet. The purpose of this event is to collect data on the inlet flow field to study the inlet flow physics during an inlet unstart and re-start, as well as the interaction of the spill flow with the external flow field on the dynamics of the flight test vehicle. The vehicle must remain under controlled flight during this event, and subsequently recover to resume the remainder of the flight test. Once the vehicle recovers and attains the desired flight path, execution of the parameter identification maneuvers will resume until the inlet naturally unstarts as it transitions through its lower operability limit, at which time the experiment will conclude.
5. Companies are to adhere to the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM) procedures for the transmittal of responses, which are limited to unclassified. Company responses are to include a name and telephone number of a point of contact having the authority and knowledge to clarify responses with government representatives. Company responses should clearly indicate the technology area it is addressing and must include a one page cover letter along with a narrative summary that is no more than 15 pages. Companies are not limited to a single response. Submissions are due within 30 days of this announcement and may be made by mailing your response on a compact disk and one original and 3 copies to:
Dr. Michael A. Bolender, (937) 255-8494,,
B146 R300
2210 8th St.
Wright-Patterson AFB OH 45433

6. This notice is part of the Government's Market Research, a continuous process for obtaining the latest information on the ``art of the possible'' from industry with respect to their current and near-term capabilities. The information collected may be used by the Government to define the scope of the flight experiment, determine aspects of the vehicle configuration to be flown, as well as execution of the flight test. Information received as a result of this request will be considered as sensitive and will be protected as such. Any proprietary information received in response to this request will be properly protected from any unauthorized disclosure. The Government will not use any proprietary information submitted to establish the capability, requirements, approach, or solution so as to not inadvertently restrict competition.

7. Only U.S. Companies doing business in or based in the U.S. will be permitted to respond to this request. Responses to questions from interested parties will be promptly answered and provided equally to all interested parties unless some release of proprietary information is involved or the answer addresses a question peculiar to a Company or that Company's possible solution. Currently one-on-one sessions with respondents are not contemplated. If one-on-one sessions with interested parties are conducted, they will be offered to all to clarify understanding of the submittal and the capability ramifications.

8. Technical points-of-contact are: Dr. Mike Bolender, AFRL/RBCA, (937)-255-8494, and Ms. Heidi Wilkin, AFRL/RBAI, (937)-255-3538. The procurement point-of-contact is Ms. Melissa S. Prickett, AFRL/PKVA, (937)-656-9749.

9. This notice will be updated as additional information becomes available.

Bldg 167, Area B, 2310 8th Street
Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio 45433-7801
United States
Melissa Prickett,
Grants Negotiator
Phone: (937) 656-9749