The United States Air Force, along with the Pentagon, are developing a plane that can reach speeds up to Mach 5.
Air Force Chief Scientist Mica Endsley said that in 2013, the X-51A Waverider aircraft had a successful test flight in which it was able to reach hypersonic speeds and maintain its speed. The X-51A continued its test flight until it ran out of fuel and landed in the sea and was destroyed, as planned.
"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"
Millitary.com reported that the Airforce is also working on developing hypersonic weapons that can travel at incredible speeds.
"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."
During the 2013 test, the Waverider was able to reach Mach 5.1, which is more than five times the speed of sound. At hypersonic speeds, the aircraft could reach anywhere on the planet in about four hours. The advantage of having such an aircraft available for military operations is apparent.
While the new systems will be great for transporting equipment, and being used as a missile, they aren't the best for transporting humans. At the speeds that these aircraft can reach, a person would die.
Endsley mentioned that the United States isn't the only country working on hypersonic weapon systems.
"Certainly, the U.S. is not the only country involved in developing hypersonic weapons. They are showing a lot of capability in this area. The advantage of hypersonics is not just that something goes very fast -- but that it can go great distances at those speeds."
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, there's currently a hypersonic arms race underway. The race involves the United States, Russia, and China. Each country is trying to be the first to perfect hypersonic weapons.
As Geek notes, the plan is for the aircraft to be completed and in use by 2023. The finished product will most likely resemble a drone of sorts in its usage. It will be the fastest way for equipment and supplies to be transported across the world.
If you haven't seen the 2013 X-51A Waverider test flight video, you can watch it below.
[Photo by the Airforce]