The Navy’s Navigation Plan (NAVPLAN) 2022 features six force design imperatives that include investments in hypersonics that will play an important role in delivering capabilities at greater distance. In support of the development of the critical technology, the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) has recently been accepted into the University Consortium for Applied Hypersonics (UCAH), a collaborative network of academia, industry and laboratories that serves the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) through research and development in the field of hypersonics.
“This is a real milestone for NPS,” said retired U.S. Navy Capt. John Hammerer, NPS Chair of Integrated Air and Missile Defense. “We are now in the community of hypersonic research and we have access to all the resources and research being done by the universities and industries that are part of the University Consortium of Applied Hypersonics.”
The consortium fosters collaboration with more than 100 universities and 150 industry partners working on hypersonics. The UCAH's mission is to serve DOD requirements in science and technology, workforce development, and technology transition, by mobilizing and leveraging the academic community and its partners to deliver solutions to DOD-defined research and prototype projects.
NPS also brings unique assets to UCAH, with facilities that allow for highly-classified research, the rocket propulsion and turbo propulsion laboratories, and the unique experience of our students.
“The unique capability we bring to this consortium is that we have officers operationally-experienced in integrated air and missile defense and strike warfare,” said Hammerer. “They've been doing real world operations. They understand the threat. They understand how this mission will be executed.”
This is especially important for NPS' Admiral Wayne E. Meyer Scholars, who excel in the technical underpinnings associated with Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD). The Meyer Scholars recently completed six months of detailed study of hypersonic threats, research, development and operational concepts. They understand the fundamentals of the technology and integrate them with operational applications.
“Hypersonics is at the top of the DOD research priority list, our participation in the UCAH is tangible evidence that NPS is focused on the most important work in DOD,” said Dr. Kevin Smith, NPS Vice Provost for Research.
“Membership in UCAH opens up a wide spectrum of opportunity for NPS to engage in basic and applied research essential to helping the United States remain competitive with our adversaries in this challenging discipline,” Smith added.
Smith went on to express that the NPS warrior scholars who work in this discipline will return to operational commands with expert insight for leaders, also benefits of having technology spinoffs.
“The national effort in hypersonics will undoubtedly generate advances in many existing and new technologies with applications that can help solve operational problems of warfighting,” noted Smith. “NPS participation in UCAH can help accelerate the transition of these technologies to operational applications.”
The consortium has already sparked collaboration between NPS and two members of UCAH, the University of Arizona and North Carolina State University, because of the capabilities available at NPS.
“The establishment of the UCAH shows the importance to the DOD of the partnerships between academia, industry, laboratories and research centers in addressing national security challenges,” said Smith. “Such partnerships are at the heart of the innovation strategy being developed at NPS. We are extremely pleased to become a member of this significant consortium of partners.”
Established in 2020, UCAH is a five-year, $100-million consortium funded by the Joint Hypersonics Transition Office. UCAH membership is an important part of expanding and leveraging the NPS defense-focused innovation ecosystem with academic partners. The consortium is led by Dr. Rodney Bowersox, who serves as the Associate Dean for Research for the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station.