U.S. Air Force Makes New AFWERX Investment in Boom Supersonic Airliner Research

Boom Supersonic anticipates the first flight of its XB-1 supersonic demonstrator aircraft, pictured here at their Denver, Colorado hangar, to occur in 2022. (Boom Supersonic)

Boom Supersonic, the Denver, Colorado-based aerospace company developing a supersonic airliner capable of flying at Mach 1.7, announced a new contract award from the U.S. Air Force on Tuesday valued at up to $60 million. The Strategic Funding Increase (STRATFI) contract, issued to Boom through the Air Force’s innovation arm, AFWERX, and its AFVentures division, will be used to accelerate research and development of military applications for Overture—the supersonic commercial airliner currently under development.

According to Boom’s Jan. 11 announcement of the new contract, potential defense users and applications for a military variant of Overture could include “executive transport; Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance; Special Operations Forces; and the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF).”

United Airlines will acquire 15 supersonic airliners under a deal announced with Boom last summer. Pictured here is a computer-generated rendering of what United’s future Overture aircraft could look like. (Boom Supersonic)

Tuesday’s announcement is the latest financial investment by the Air Force in Boom, and a substantial increase over the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 2 contract award issued in September 2020 toward the development of a military executive transport configuration of Overture. Blake Scholl, founder and CEO of Boom Supersonic, said in the Tuesday announcement that the STRATFI contract allows the company to “collaborate with the Air Force on the unique requirements and needs for global military missions, ultimately allowing Boom to better satisfy the needs of the Air Force where it uses commercially-derived aircraft. As a potential future platform for the Air Force, Overture would offer the valuable advantage of time, an unmatched option domestically and internationally.”

2021 was a year of progress on several aspects of Boom’s future supersonic air transportation plans, including the addition of Dr. Mark J. Lewis, Executive Director of the National Defense Industrial Association’s Emerging Technologies Institute—and one of the leading hypersonic experts in the U.S.—to its Advisory Council. American Express also became one of the latest investors in Boom through its Amex Ventures arm, and United Airlines committed to a purchase of 15 Overture airliners in July.

Boom’s current supersonic research and development focus revolves around its XB-1, the sub-scale supersonic demonstrator aircraft first unveiled in October 2020, which the company expects to make its maiden flight in 2022. The company also anticipates breaking ground on its manufacturing facility for Overture this year, with future targets including rolling out Overture in 2025, flying Overture in 2026, and carrying passengers by 2029.

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