LIFT, Department of Defense and State of Michigan Launch Planning Phase for Hypersonics & Extreme Environment Test Facility

Selfridge Air National Guard Base Potential DoD Project Site

DETROIT – LIFT, the Detroit-based Department of Defense national advanced materials manufacturing innovation institute, today announced it has launched a project to explore the potential for a new Hypersonic and Extreme Environment Test (HEET) facility at or near Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Michigan.

Supported by members of the Michigan Congressional Delegation, and led by Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, LIFT launched this initial exploratory phase of the program with $1.5 million in funding through the Department of Defense FY23 budget, which was matched by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) through the organization’s efforts to leverage federal funding for strategic industries, including defense & aerospace, as part of its Make It In Michigan approach to economic development.

Operating at speeds of Mach 5 or higher, hypersonics and counter-hypersonic vehicles are among the Department of Defense’s top priorities, and understanding the materials required to survive these speeds is critical to further developing those vehicles and maximizing their effectiveness. Vital to this research is the ability to test such materials under extreme conditions; thus, the need for a new test facility, ideally, located in near proximity to LIFT’s Corktown applied research and development headquarters.

In a report accompanying the FY23 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the Senate Armed Services Committee noted it “believes that further investment in hypersonic test infrastructure is vital to the rapid fielding of emerging hypersonic weapons technologies.”

“We are working closely with our partners and proponents in Washington – including Senators Peters and Stabenow and Representatives James, Stevens and Slotkin – as well as the State of Michigan and Macomb County partners to deliver such a testing facility at Selfridge Air National Base – fewer than 30 miles away from our base of operations,” said Nigel Francis, CEO and Executive Director, LIFT. “It is a tremendous opportunity for the region, to become an epicenter for advanced materials development, further cementing advanced manufacturing in the state and to help close critical testing gaps our nation desperately needs.”

With the proper funding, support and research feasibility, the possibility of a materials testing facility in Macomb County in or around Selfridge could become a reality in the next few years. LIFT is expected to continue the program with additional funding included in the recently passed FY24 Department of Defense budget.

“Hypersonics will play an increasingly vital role in U.S. national defense in the coming years, but more testing is needed to refine this groundbreaking technology,” said U.S. Senator Gary Peters, a member of the Senate Armed Services and Senate Appropriations Committees. “I was proud to secure the federal funds needed to get this project underway, particularly given Selfridge is already home to numerous advanced capabilities and national security components. LIFT is an invaluable asset to Michigan’s defense manufacturing sector and I’ll keep doing everything I can to support their great work.”

“With more than 4,000 Michigan businesses currently serving the defense and aerospace industry, Team Michigan is committed to growing the ecosystem that ensures we can Make It In Michigan, while strengthening national security,” said Quentin L. Messer, Jr., CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “We are grateful to Michigan’s U.S. Senators and Congressional delegation for supporting this project at LIFT that brings together our expertise in R&D and advanced manufacturing and continues to position Michigan as the nation’s arsenal of innovation.”

“Macomb County continues to stand at the frontline of advanced manufacturing and innovation,” said Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel. “With our strategic partnerships at the Federal, state and local levels, the potential for a Hypersonic and Extreme Environment Test facility at Selfridge Air National Guard Base reinforces our commitment to national security and economic advancement.”

This initial program is at Phase 0, which means more specifically, it is encompassing:
– Identifying key ecosystem and stakeholders;
– Testing capability gap analysis and requirements itemization;
– Defining differentiating capabilities, specifications, and testing standards;
– Defining data and database management, cybersecurity, and access strategies;
– Infrastructure and site location selection, including support for classified activities;
– Establishing a technology scale-up plan and transition strategy;
– Establishing talent and workforce development plans;
– Developing roadmaps looking out 3, 7, and 10 years, and;
– Developing timed plan for HEET Phase 1(from the FY24 budget).

“Understanding materials characteristics is at the core of everything we do at LIFT as we look to manufacture the components of the future for our national defense, particularly those which need to travel in excess of 4,000 miles per hour,” added Francis. “We are proud to be leading the effort in developing the materials and processes which will lead to transformational change in U.S. manufacturing, enabling us to leap ahead of our global competitors. We want to accomplish this here in Michigan.”