Air Force unveils new 'Mayhem' air-breathing hypersonics program

By Sara Sirota / August 14, 2020 at 10:50 AM

The Air Force this week revealed a new hypersonics program called "Mayhem" which aims to develop an expendable, scramjet-powered demonstrator capable of carrying larger payloads over longer distances than current hypersonic capabilities can achieve.

The system will have a modular weapons bay that can deliver at least three distinct payloads to execute multiple mission sets, according to a request for information the Air Force Research Laboratory released this week. Responses to the RFI are intended to inform an acquisition strategy.

AFRL is considering a contracting structure with two indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity deals -- each with multiple awards available in one group focused on developing the propulsion system and another group focused on designing the air vehicle. The propulsion and vehicle contractors would have to form an agreement to share information and resources.

The Mayhem program manager will likely have the two IDIQ contractor pools compete for future task order requirements and may also choose to order tasks directly from one of the two groups based on available funding, the notice states.

In addition to the contracting structure, AFRL is interested in receiving industry feedback on risks of using other transaction agreements, achieving first flight within five years, standardizing a payload interface and inserting component technology during development of the integrated vehicle design.

Mayhem is the second air-breathing hypersonics program the Air Force has launched in just a few months. The service began market research in April to support the Future Hypersonics Program and announced last week it will award Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon initial contracts to develop the solid-rocket, scramjet-powered cruise missile.