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Raytheon Technologies invests in hypersonic aircraft startup Hermeus

Hermeus' Quarterhorse hypersonic aircraft. (Hermeus/Released)

Aerospace and defense giant Raytheon Technologies is investing in Hermeus, the Georgia-based startup working to build hypersonic aircraft.

It’s the first investment for RTX Ventures, the multibillion-dollar firm’s newly established venture capital group.

“Hypersonic technologies are of critical importance to national security, which is why we made

our first investment in a company with such a bold plan and vision in this space,” Daniel Ateya, managing director of RTX Ventures, said in a statement. “Hermeus’ technical approach and business plan balances near-term defense applications with long-term commercial aspirations and will help our customers reimagine the possibilities of hypersonic technologies.”

Terms of the investment value were not disclosed; the funding is part of the Hermeus’ $100 million, Series B financing round.

Raytheon, the second largest aerospace and defense firm, becomes the first major defense contractor to partner with the U.S. Air Force-backed startup. The company’s money will go toward building Hermeus’ first aircraft, an unmanned test plane called Quarterhorse, and accelerate development of its next aircraft, Darkhorse, a hypersonic aircraft that could carry people or cargo.

While Raytheon doesn’t build aircraft, it is a supplier to Boeing, Airbus, and other manufacturers through its Collins Aerospace and Pratt & Whitney businesses. The company is also developing hypersonic weapons for the Pentagon.

“We launched RTX Ventures to accelerate our pipeline of innovative technologies to grow, to drive future growth, and seed an ecosystem of groundbreaking technology companies,” CEO Greg Hayes said last month during the company’s quarterly earning call.

On Thursday, Raytheon said its venture arm would specifically invest in companies “developing technologies that are strategically aligned to the Raytheon Technologies portfolio, with an emphasis on four broad priority areas: secure and connected ecosystems, autonomy and artificial intelligence technologies, power and propulsion systems, and precision sensing and effects.”

Hermeus’ ultimate goal is to build hypersonic planes that can quickly fly passengers around the world at five times the speed of sound. The company’s efforts caught the attention of the Air Force, which headlined a $60 million investment in the startup last year. More recently, Hermeus was part of a group of hypersonic companies that participated in a high-profile meeting with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, and other top Pentagon leaders.

“Hypersonic aircraft will radically accelerate air travel and enable the United States to address critical national security challenges,” Hermeus CEO A.J. Piplica said in a statement. “Speed is our lifeblood at Hermeus, and I’ve been impressed with the ability of the team at RTX Ventures to embody that virtue. We look forward to expanding collaboration and continued acceleration of our vision for a faster future.”

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