Science and technology company Leidos has secured a contract to assist the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in the development of air-breathing hypersonic system.

The indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract has a ceiling value of approximately $334m.

It has been awarded as part of the Air Force Mayhem or Strike programme, which is managed by AFRL.

The latest contract requires Leidos to design/develop a large-class version, with increased range and payload capacity, that can surpass the existing hypersonic systems.

The new system will have a scramjet engine for generating thrust and for propelling the vehicle for long distances at speeds more than Mach 5.

Under the initial task order valued at $24m, the company will also complete associated system requirement review and conceptual design review for this programme.

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This work, which is expected to complete by October 2028, will be performed in a digital engineering environment.

Leidos Dynetics president Steve Cook said: “To deliver next-generation of air-breathing hypersonic system, we will leverage our years of investment, knowledge and success in hypersonic field.”

According to the US Department of Defense’s announcement, AFRL and Leidos will perform this work at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, US. However, the potential testing sites for the programme are yet to be decided.

Leidos has already formed a team industry partners/academia to support the project as system design agents (SDAs).

The chosen SDAs include Calspan, Draper and Kratos Defense & Security Solutions. This partnership will deliver the required research and development support for Mayhem project.

The agents will also prepare a production-ready technical data package for hypersonic system prototype production.

Leidos will lead model-based system engineering and programming that will further allow Mayhem project to transition from conceptual to operational stage.