Exosonic starts flight testing for supersonic target drone


Supersonic aircraft developer Exosonic has started the ground and flight test program to validate the capabilities of its EX-3M Trident unmanned test aircraft.

The autonomous, open architecture, high-speed, developmental unmanned aerial system (UAS) aircraft was designed, manufactured, and brought to flight test in just nine months.

The Trident is to serve as a quarter-scale testbed to validate the autonomy software that will eventually be incorporated into Exosonic’s full-scale supersonic drone, the EX-3 Revenant.

Revenant is a fifth-generation aerial target drone that Exosonic is designing under a US$1.25 million Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract with the US Air Force. In addition to the aerial target role, Exosonic will investigate a modified EX-3 version to serve in the adversary air role as well.

The EX-3M was inducted into a testing program by completing a series of ground taxi tests at the New Cuyama test range in the California high desert near Santa Barbara. The ground testing is being performed to verify taxi and takeoff characteristics in advance of a series of planned Summer 2023 flights which will validate vehicle performance and autonomous capabilities.

“I’m extremely proud of the team for getting the Trident vehicle designed, assembled, and into the test program in only nine months.” said Norris Tie, Exosonic’s CEO and co-founder. “They worked tirelessly over the past several weeks to reach this point.”

Exosonic chief technology officer and co-founder Timothy MacDonald, described the testing as “an excellent beginning to a comprehensive testing program.

“We were able to put our aircraft through its paces out in the field and gather some great results. The data will now be analyzed, and we’ll move to further ground testing and flight testing,” he added.

Exosonic said it will explore commercial opportunities to leverage the EX-3M as an autonomy testbed or as a research vehicle to demonstrate US Air Force capabilities. Exosonic is currently in discussions with several commercial entities to demonstrate crewed-uncrewed teaming.

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