HARF Opening

Purdue Hypersonics and Applied Research Facility (HARF)

Grand Opening and Workshop

June 6, 2023

Welcome from Mark Lewis, PARI CEO

On behalf of Purdue University and PARI — the Purdue Applied Research Institute — I am delighted to welcome you to the dedication of the Hypersonics and Applied Research Facility (HARF).

This complex will be at the center of PARI’s work in the hypersonics field, meeting the needs of government and industry in our nation’s efforts to develop and deploy hypersonic systems.

The Purdue Applied Research Institute is a nonprofit arm of Purdue. Its mission is to extend the reach and impact of Purdue’s deep research capabilities and apply them directly to challenges in national security and economic prosperity for the United States and its worldwide partners.

PARI will provide innovative technological solutions and services for both government and industry.

It is especially fitting that PARI’s first major facility will help the United States advance the state-of-the-art in hypersonics. Purdue University has a rich, distinguished history in flight. It began in 1909 when Purdue engineer, J. Clifford Turpin, worked with the Wright brothers to improve the engine that powered their fragile flying machine.

And today, Purdue is known as the “Cradle of Astronauts.”

Hypersonic flight — more than five times the speed of sound — represents the ultimate in humankind’s quest to fly higher and faster. Traveling at more than seven times the speed of a commercial airliner, a hypersonic vehicle would fly more than a mile per second, traveling continent-spanning distances in mere minutes.

Hypersonic weapons have the potential to outclass existing weapon systems, offering tremendous new capabilities to our nation’s defenders, as well as an ominous new threat in the hands of our adversaries.

Hypersonics is not a new field. The first human-made hypersonic vehicle was an Army sounding rocket flown in 1949 from the top of a captured German V-2 rocket. Since then, there has been a plethora of national programs exploring various aspects of hypersonic flight, including manned and unmanned systems for a wide range of missions. However, advances in recent years have made the delivery of operational hypersonic craft — and especially weapons — a more practical reality.

Of particular concern, both Russia and China have expanded on our work with their own significant investments in hypersonic weaponry, and both have already deployed operational weapons. Meanwhile, the United States is still in the development stage, so we are in a race, and we will have to play considerable catchup if we are to meet — and ultimately exceed — the capabilities of our competitors.

This is why HARF is profoundly important. We must test hypersonic systems in realistic environments. We have many unanswered questions on the physics of hypersonic flight, and HARF will help us answer many critical ones.

The development of materials suitable for use in hypersonic flight is also essential, and HARF will play a leading role in that as well. But beyond just providing the much-needed test and evaluation facilities, HARF will also help educate and train the future hypersonic workforce, meeting the needs of industry and government as our nation ramps up its activities in this field.

So, again, welcome to what is a truly historic event — the dedication of this major national hypersonics facility — made possible by corporate partners and government sponsors with the mission of leveraging the tremendous resources of one of the world’s top universities to address a critical national need. Thank you for joining us today.

Mark Lewis

Chief Executive Officer 
Purdue Applied Research Institute

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