Northrop Grumman signed an agreement with Boom Supersonic at the Farnborough Airshow on Tuesday to develop special mission variants of the supersonic Overture jet.
“A new supersonic aircraft tailored to provide quick-reaction capabilities to the U.S. military and allies will be offered through a collaborative agreement between Northrop Grumman and Boom Supersonic,” the OEM said, adding the sides finalized the deal at the show.
Pairing Northrop Grumman’s airborne defense systems integration expertise with Boom’s Overture supersonic aircraft demonstrates the power of collaboration for the benefit of customers, said Tom Jones, president of Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems. “Together we can ensure our military customers have variants of Overture for missions where advanced system capabilities and speed are critical."
Boom founder and CEO Blake Scholl was candid about the pricing dynamics of the project. “Each Overture goes for $200 million a copy and we actually have yet to discount the airplane,” he said. “That’s the list price. That’s the real price. We don’t play the ‘guess the price’ game.” He said Boom has raised more than $600 million for the program. “We have spent a small fraction of that to get to where we are today. Obviously, this is going to be a multi-billion-dollar program.”
Boom’s approach calls for accomplishing important milestones, accessing additional capital, then proceeding with program execution, according to Scholl. “We’re very confident that the capital we need is out there in the markets and we’ve had great success at obtaining it. I expect that to continue into the future.”
He added that Boom aims for airlines to price flights at rates similar to the cost of today’s business class.
Northrop Grumman said that the Overture could be used to deliver medical supplies, provide for emergency medical evacuation, or surveil vast areas faster than conventional aircraft. “The special mission Overture variant could also be used to coordinate other aircraft and ground assets in a variety of scenarios,” it said.
Boom's timeline calls for the first Overture to be built in 2024, begin flight testing in 2026, then enter airline service in 2029.
“Aviation has not seen a giant leap in decades,” said Scholl. “Overture is revolutionary in its design and will fundamentally change how we think about distance. With more than 600 routes across the globe, Overture will make the world dramatically more accessible for tens of millions of passengers.”
As it continues to build the supply chain for its supersonic aircraft, Boom announced new and expanded relationships. “Collins Aerospace, Eaton, and Safran Landing Systems are joining the Overture program, supplying key systems such as landing gear, fuel and inerting, avionics, and ice protection,” Boom said.
Scholl remains poised in responding to expressions of market skepticism. “I can’t wait to welcome everybody on board—safely and sustainably,” he said. “The proof is in the pudding. I’m incredibly proud of our team. I’m incredibly proud of all the suppliers that are joining forces.
“There will always be the doubters. We don’t focus on that. We focus on our customers and we focus on our passengers and I’m so looking forward to the day that we all climb on board and we take that first flight.”