The US Pentagon is moving ahead with plans to build a hypersonic plane which would travel five times faster than the speed of sound (3,805mph). In 2013 they successfully tested the X-51A Waverider hypersonic aircraft which was able to reach hypersonic speed and maintain its velocity. The test ended with the X-51A crashing into the ocean and being destroyed, which was the Pentagon’s intention. Plans are also in development for hypersonic weapons which could reach anywhere in the world in just about 4 hours. Having aircraft and weapons capable of such speeds is a distinct military advantage and one the US is betting will pay off. It remains to be seen if these aircraft will be designed to have pilots as these speeds are very dangerous to the human body. But you can bet if they’re developing the plane, they’re developing a way for people to fly it as well.
“X-51 was really a proof of concept test. It showed that you could get a scram jet engine, launch it off an aircraft and it could go hypersonic. It was able to go more than Mach 5 until it ran out of fuel. It was a very successful test of an airborne hypersonic weapons systems”
“The new air vehicle effort will progress alongside an Air Force hypersonic weapons program. While today’s cruise missiles travel at speeds up to 600 miles per hour, hypersonic weapons will be able to reach speeds of Mach 5 to Mach 10, Air Force officials said.”
The US aren’t the only ones developing hypersonic weapons and aircraft. Russia and China both are actively researching the technology and right now it’s a race to see who will develop it first.
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Watch the X-51 Waverider on a test flight below.