Pratt & Whitney will provide the preliminary design of a high-speed accelerator for a turbine-based combined-cycle (TBCC) propulsion system to Lockheed, which could support flight up to Mach 6.

The TBCC propulsion system consists of a turbojet engine, which can operate from take-off to Mach 3, and a ramjet engine, which can operate from Mach 2.5 to Mach 6.

In Phase I of the TBCC mode transition demonstrator programme, Pratt & Whitney will develop preliminary designs for a dual-mode ramjet combustor with related control and fuel system components.

The firm will also define requirements for a test facility to perform TBCC propulsion system mode transition tests.

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Mode Transition Demonstrator programme manager Cal DeFreese said that this contract builds on the success of the Falcon Combined-Cycle Engine Technology ground tests as it continues to mature hardware for a dual-mode ramjet propulsion system.

“The Mode Transition Demonstrator programme will provide valuable risk reduction for future flight test programme opportunities,” DeFreese said.

The TBCC propulsion system could be used in reusable hypersonic cruise vehicles for strike and reconnaissance missions.

The contract between Lockheed and Pratt & Whitney is valid for a period of ten months.