NDIA, Purdue launch inaugural hypersonics capabilities conference to advance transformational military capabilities

Purdue University

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The inaugural  National Defense Industrial Association Hypersonics Capabilities Conference, co-hosted with Purdue University, is bringing a consortium of military, government, congressional, industry and policy leaders to further advance U.S. hypersonic systems.

The conference will be held Tuesday (July 30) to Thursday (Aug. 1) at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Though the conference is at capacity due to the high interest of this topic and the desire for stakeholders to engage in key discussions on partnerships, space permitting, the public is invited to attend the first day, Tuesday, sessions. Click conference agenda for information.

Defense leaders and analysts believe hypersonic defense abilities are “game changing” technologies. Hypersonics systems can travel at speeds of Mach 5 or faster and are highly maneuverable, making them potentially very effective against heavily defended areas. Defense leaders report that U.S. hypersonic investment have grown dramatically. In its FY20 budget request, the Department of Defense increased its hypersonics budget significantly to approximately $2.4 billion in annual spending. This includes funding for research and development, ground and flight testing, and production.

Hypersonic weapons include technologies in Boost-Glide flight, RAMJET and SCRAMJET propulsion, and combined cycle turbines. New defensive systems include satellite constellations, sensors, radars, and interceptors. Supporting all of this is a “new industrial base” and ecosystem to develop and improve offensive and defensive hypersonic capabilities.

Purdue has one of the most comprehensive hypersonics research capabilities, including navigation, aerodynamics, aerothermal effects propulsion, autonomy, system engineering, high-temperature materials and manufacturing in the country.

Purdue University has nearly 40 world-renowned researchers in hypersonics, and the NDIA and Purdue have long collaborated on the important research in this field,” Purdue President Mitch Daniels said. “Purdue is ready to establish itself as the ‘university hub’ of hypersonic research and development. The conference includes keynote addresses from military, government, and industry leaders, including Indiana’s Rep. Pete Visclosky, chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

“To drive technological development forward in the field of hypersonics, it will take a coordinated approach from government, industry and academia,” Visclosky said. “I thank Purdue University, under the leadership of President Daniels, and the NDIA for holding this important conference and highlighting Indiana’s incredible research and engineering assets."

The conference agenda includes programs on effective hypersonic capabilities, defense initiatives, technology acquisition, research development and hypersonic defense and the strategy, policy and acquisition plans for such technologies.

“It is imperative that our nation comes out on top of the hypersonic weapons race. NDIA’s partnership with Purdue University for this ground-breaking conference sets the foundation for a cross-cutting team of innovators to position the United States and its allies for success,” said Hawk Carlisle, NDIA’s president and chief executive officer. “Bringing together the researchers, military experts, business executives and public officials for this conference at Purdue’s world-class center of hypersonic science is a step in winning that race.”

Adding to Indiana’s research capabilities in related fields, Notre Dame provides research in aerodynamic effects, and Indiana University is a leader in advanced computing for hypersonics modeling and simulation. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division federal laboratory located in southern Indiana, is an engineering and test lab with hypersonics subject matter experts and model based engineers.

“I’m proud national defense leaders saw an opportunity to allow our innovation leaders in Indiana to showcase the depth of our talent, educational assets and specialized industry,” Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said. “Hypersonics systems are our state’s number one defense priority, and I’m glad we can bring industry leaders together at Purdue University to showcase what Indiana can offer.”

Agenda highlights at the conference include:

  • University panel to discuss opportunities for greater university collaboration in hypersonics, moderated by Purdue.
  • Navy, Air Force and Army development programs and acquisition approach.
  • Warfighter needs for hypersonic capabilities and national security implications.
  • Defense acquisition approach to fielding hypersonics.
  • Hypersonic technology readiness.
  • Systems Engineering approaches for rapid adaptability and modularity of technologies, presented by NSWC Crane.

“As the hypersonics conference demonstrates, we have government, military, industry and academia collaborating and coordinating research and development on the advancement of this very important and quickly advancing technology,” said Mung Chiang, Purdue’s John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering and the Roscoe H. George Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “Purdue and its College of Engineering stand ready to help lead this effort with partners to rapidly research, develop and transition new hypersonics innovations and its supporting technologies.”

Purdue’s College of Engineering and the Purdue Research Foundation, a nonprofit foundation that serves Purdue University, are developing plans for a multipurpose hypersonics research and development facility featuring a Mach 8 quiet wind tunnel. Purdue already has a Boeing/AFOSR Mach-6 Quiet Tunnel that is operated by Steve Schneider, professor in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering. The new Mach 8 facility would include experimental, computational and simulation capacities and is designed to function at multiple security levels in handling proprietary research collaborations with government and industry.

“Purdue’s Office of Technology Commercialization is managing more than 100 patented technologies in hypersonics that Purdue’s esteemed faculty have developed,” said Chad Pittman, vice president of Purdue Research Foundation’s National Security and Defense Program Office and Government Relations. “We continue to work closely with faculty to move these innovations to the public through commercialization facilities, financial support, business development, startup creation assistance and industry research collaboration agreements.”

Pittman and Dan DeLaurentis, director of the Institute for Global Security and Defense Innovation at Discovery Park, are the lead Purdue collaborators for the Hypersonics Capabilities Conference in conjunction with the NDIA.

Along with a wide swath of industry firms, representatives from the Office of Secretary of Defense, U.S. Navy, Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division (NSWC Crane), U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, Missile Defense Agency, , IDA Science & Technology Policy Institute, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, DoD HPCMP Hypersonic Vehicle Simulation Institute of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Sandia National Laboratories, Draper Laboratories and others will present at the conference.