Regents on Thursday voted in favor of spending some $79 million in university funds on the US Army and AFC’s Bush Combat Development Center, which was unveiled last year during a naming ceremony dedicated to former US President George H.W. Bush.
Prior to the announcement of funding from the school, approximately $50 million was approved by the state of Texas, and around $65 million was contributed by the Army. The “investment” as the school termed the move, was originally slated to run $130 million for the testing center alone, according to the university’s October 2019 news release.
In addition to a kilometer-long tube that will be used to actually field potential hypersonic weapons on the RELLIS Campus, the university’s decision has approved “laboratories, runways, underground and open-air ranges and a resilient network of sensors and systems for experimentation, data collection, analysis and storage,” according to the May 14 news release obtained by Defense News.
“Texas A&M and the RELLIS campus will become a nexus for collaboration and high-tech testing in service to our nation’s security,” Elaine Mendoza, chair of the A&M System board, said in a statement.
“Today’s vote will bring hundreds of millions worth of private investment to Central Texas as these facilities come to life. Simply put, this is where American defense contractors will want to set up shop if they want to work with the US Army Futures Command.”
Defense News noted that since the establishment of the AFC in July 2018, its commander, General John M. Murray, has been seeking outside assistance from the local tech and educational community of Austin, Texas.
The creation of the new program on the campus grounds comes shortly after the Pentagon announced the successful test of its Common-Hypersonic Glide Body. The US Department of Defense noted at the time that the launch was a “major milestone” in the US’ continued effort to obtain hypersonic weapons.
It’s worth noting the US military did not disclose the exact velocity the missile reached at the time, only stating that it traveled at “hypersonic speed.”