LIFT, DoD open ‘Hypersonics Challenge’

DETROIT–LIFT, the Detroit-based, Department of Defense-supported national manufacturing innovation institute, in partnership with the Department of Defense, is now accepting proposals for a hypersonics development challenge.

Operating at speeds of Mach 5 or higher, hypersonic and counter-hypersonic vehicles are among the Department of Defense’s top priorities, as well as the development of a safe and secure domestic supply base.

Open to the U.S. manufacturing industrial sector, the Hypersonics Challenge is a call for project proposals on three specific topics dealing with the materials and manufacture of hypersonic vehicles. One proposal will be selected on each of the following topics:

* Topic 1: Seeks to develop modeling and simulation and integrated computational materials engineering (ICME) tools to improve understanding of material processing, resulting materials structure and properties, and appropriate selection of materials for given hypersonics applications. Primary materials of interest include high temperature composites additively manufactured metals, and coatings.

* Topic 2: Advanced manufacturing methods including, but not limited to, in-situ sensing and non-destructive inspection (NDI) techniques to ensure reliable and repeatable manufacturing of hypersonic components to ensure successful operation.

* Topic 3: Seeks alternative production methods for high-temperature composites, and their feedstock materials, relevant to hypersonic vehicle aeroshell glide body, leading edge, control surface, and nose tip components that increase yield, throughput, reliability, and affordability compared to traditional labor-intensive and subtractive billet-to-part manufacturing.

“Hypersonics systems are the most pressing issue for our national defense going forward,” said Ashley Brawner of the Joint Hypersonics Transition Office. “By partnering with LIFT on issuing this challenge, we are calling upon the brainpower and innovativeness of the American manufacturing base to help us maintain our global leadership in hypersonics materials, manufacturing and systems.”

“Our national security and national economy rest on the United States’ manufacturing base,” said Nigel Francis, CEO and executive director of LIFT. “And we know that the manufacturing base, not only in LIFT’s ecosystem, but across the country, will step up and respond to this challenge with the ingenuity we are known for.”

Project awards will be determined by a team consisting of LIFT and the Department of Defense. Decision criteria includes technological merit; technology readiness level (TRL) and manufacturing readiness level (MRL); funding requirements; cost-share commitment; ITAR compliance, and; LIFT member engagement.

More information is shared below, and the proposal template can be found at,

Challenge Timeline:

Challenge Opens: April 20, 2021
Proposal Submission Deadline: July 2, 2021
Project Announcements: August 2021
Projects Start: October 2021

Challenge Details:

* Consortiums must be led by one organization. LIFT will issue a project award to the lead organization. Subsequent sub-awards should be issued be the lead organization.
* Challenge participants must be International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) compliant
* Selected projects will be provided up to $1 million for project development, not including cost-share – which is encouraged, but not required
* Project duration will be 12 months, with up to three months available for reporting
* Proposals may be submitted by LIFT members, as well as non-members. However, award recipients must join LIFT at a Silver tier or higher.

LIFT, operated by the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute, is the Detroit-based, public-private partnership between the Department of Defense, industry, and academia, committed to driving American manufacturing into the future through technology and talent development. LIFT funded in part by the Department of Defense with management through the Office of Naval Research. Visit to learn more.

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