Erinyes of Kratos reaches hypersonic speeds on its maiden flight


Erinyes of Kratos achieves hypersonic speeds on its maiden flight, providing a high-speed test platform for the Missile Defense Agency.

The Kratos Erinyes hypersonic vehicle has made its maiden flight, reaching speeds in excess of Mach 5. The flight, launched from Wallops Island in Virginia, served as a test platform for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and enabled tracking satellites to detect a hypersonic vehicle for the first time. Developed in three years for less than €13.5 million, Erinyes is already attracting interest from other US Department of Defense customers.

The Erinyes project

The Erinyes hypersonic vehicle, developed by Kratos, made its maiden flight in June 2024, reaching speeds in excess of Mach 5. This maiden flight marks a crucial stage in the development of the Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) hypersonic capabilities. The test took place on 14 June 2024 from Wallops Island, Virginia, and enabled two tracking satellites to detect a hypersonic vehicle for the first time, demonstrating the MDA’s advanced threat tracking capabilities.

Erinyes was developed in three years on a budget of less than €13.5 million, thanks to a mix of internal funding and funds from the US Congress. The initiative responds to Department of Defense concerns about the existing hypersonic test infrastructure, which is often overloaded and inadequate to meet growing demand.

Technology development and vehicle capabilities

The development of the Erinyes hypersonic vehicle by Kratos represents a significant advance in defence technology. The vehicle, named after the Greek goddess of vengeance, has been designed to provide a rapid, reusable test platform for hypersonic experiments. With a unit cost of €4.5 million (excluding the rocket engine and other specific customer requirements), Erinyes offers an affordable solution for testing components and sub-systems under realistic flight conditions at speeds in excess of Mach 5.

Kratos has also developed a range of rocket engines, called Zeus, designed to offer increased thrust and range at lower cost. These engines should be used for future missions, including those involving Erinyes, to further enhance its flight and test capabilities.


Implications for defence and future opportunities

The successful maiden flight of Erinyes opens up new opportunities for US defence. The vehicle is already attracting the attention of various Department of Defense entities, including the Pentagon Test Resource Management Center’s Multi-Service Advanced Capability Hypersonic Test Bed (MACH-TB). This programme, which uses vehicles such as Rocket Lab’s HASTE and Stratolaunch’s Talon-A, aims to test components and sub-systems in realistic hypersonic flight environments.

As a subcontractor to MACH-TB, Kratos supplies sounding rockets to the main contractor, Leidos. Erinyes is expected to play a key role in the MACH-TB experiments planned for 2025 or 2026. This expanded role will enable Kratos to strengthen its position in the defence and aerospace sector.

Development of hypersonic technology and strategic partnerships

In addition to Erinyes, Kratos is working on various hypersonic development projects for classified commercial, defence and national security customers. The company began by using its sounding rocket technology to provide targeting capabilities to the MDA and Naval Surface Warfare Center, supporting the Aegis ballistic missile defence system.

Kratos is also under contract to the Air Force Research Laboratory for the Mayhem programme, which is developing a hypersonic platform for reconnaissance, surveillance and strike. These strategic collaborations and the technological advances achieved position Kratos as a major player in the field of hypersonic technologies.

Future prospects and impact on the market

The ongoing development of hypersonic technology by Kratos, notably through projects such as Erinyes and Zeus, meets a growing market need for affordable launch vehicle propulsion solutions. With missions planned for this year, Kratos continues to innovate and push back the boundaries of hypersonic capabilities.

The first flight of Erinyes marks an important milestone for Kratos and US defence. This success opens the door to new testing and technology development opportunities, reinforcing Kratos’ position as a leader in hypersonic defence technologies.

War Wings Daily is an independant magazine.