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Lockheed to partner with Aerion to develop supersonic business jet

By Mike Stone
Lockheed Martin's logo is seen during Japan Aerospace 2016 air show in Tokyo, Japan, October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

By Mike Stone

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lockheed Martin Corp <LMT.N>, the maker of the F-35 and F-22 fighter jets, is partnering with plane maker Aerion Corp to develop the world's first supersonic business jet.

Over the next year, the companies will draw up a plan for all phases of the program such as engineering, certification and production to develop the jet, the Aerion AS2, the companies said on Friday.

The head of Lockheed's aeronautic division, Orlando Carvalho, said "new materials, new technologies are making civil supersonic flight a realistic near-term possibility."

Reno, Nevada-based Aerion said it expects the supersonic business jet to be operational by 2025.

During the next year the project could create as many at 40 jobs at Lockheed Martin alone, Carvalho told Reuters in an interview.

In May, General Electric Co's <GE.N> GE Aviation and Aerion announced a joint study to develop a supersonic engine for the AS2.

U.S. space agency NASA last year awarded a contract to a unit of Lockheed to design a low-boom flight demonstration aircraft as part of its Commercial Supersonic Technology Project.

(Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington, D.C., and Arunima Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Leslie Adler)