Boom announces move into military market with Northrop deal at Farnborough

Northrop Grumman

Boom Supersonic unveiled the production configuration of its Overture airliner at the Farnborough Airshow, and announced plans to target military customers with a new partnership with Northrop Grumman. 

Boom has so far targeted the commercial market, but founder and CEO Blake Scholl told a media briefing that Boom wanted to enter “the other half of the market”. 

Under the partnership with Northrop, Boom will develop special mission variants for the U.S. Government and its allies, in particular rapid response. 

The company said potential use cases include quick-reaction surveillance and reconnaissance, command and control, as well as mobility and logistics missions such as emergency medical and troop transport. 

Scholl said that the partnership could help the military operate differently but stressed: “It’s not the next Stealth Bomber…It’s about meaningful range with meaningful payload.” 

New configuration 

Rendering of Boom Supersonic Overture taking off

Credit: Boom Supersonic

Boom said that the updated configuration of the Overture boasts improved aerodynamics, performance and noise reduction. Its key features include a four-engine design, contoured fuselage and gull wings. The company said the four-engine design will reduce noise and costs for airline operators. It will cruise at Mach 1.7 over water and just under Mach 1 over land. It will also run on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). 

However, there was no update on which engines will power the airliner, which Boom says will make its first flight in 2026 and carry passengers in 2029. Taxi testing is due to start on July 20, 2022.  

“We’ve made a lot more progress in propulsion than we’re sharing today,” Scholl told a briefing at the airshow.  

Boom’s first airline customer is United, which has signed a deal for 15 of the supersonic airliners, once safety, operating and sustainability requirements are met. The deal also includes an option for 35 more aircraft.  

Scholl hopes to avoid the fate of Concorde, which he described as being “the epitome of an unsustainable aircraft” in some ways. He said the aim is for the Overture, which will carry 65 to 80 passengers, to be accessible to anyone who would fly in premium cabins today. 

Previously, Boom has received funding from the United States Air Force for research and development into the aircraft and received a contract to look into whether the Overture could be used to transport members of the government, as a supersonic alternative to the custom Boeing 747 aircraft traditionally used as ‘Air Force One’. 

The company also announced at Farnborough that Collins Aerospace, Eaton and Safran would be joining as Tier 1 suppliers, providing key systems such as landing gear, fuel  distribution and measuring, avionics and ice protection. 

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