Chinese researchers have revealed the design of a jet that would be able to fly at hypersonic speeds and take cargo and passengers from Beijing to New York in a record time of two hours, about one-seventh of the time that a jumbo jet currently takes to complete the journey of about 6,800 miles (11,000 kilometers) between the two cities.
According to the South China Morning Post, this hypersonic jet, dubbed “I-plane,” would be able to achieve speeds of more than 3,700 mph (6,000 kph)—five times the speed of sound (1,235 kph). The plane would feature two sets of wings that would help reduce drag and turbulence at high speeds. These wings would also boost the lift capacity of the plane. The design of I-plane also resembles the design of biplanes that were used during the First World War but eventually became unpopular, and most of them disappeared from the scene during the 1930s.
“It will take only a couple hours to travel from Beijing to New York at hypersonic speed,” lead researcher Cui Kai wrote in a research paper published by Science China Press in the journal Physics, Mechanics, and Astronomy.
According to the SCMP, a model of the I-plane was tested some time back in special wind tunnels that were earlier used to evaluate the aerodynamics of hypersonic weapon prototypes developed for the Chinese military. The researchers claim this I-plane model performed satisfactorily when it was pushed to a speed of about 8,600 kph.
I-Plane has been designed by a team of researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. This is the same team that is working on China’s secret hypersonic weapons program.
Some experts believe this hypersonic plane reflects China’s ambitions to overtake the U.S. in terms of creating new strategic weapons and could prove to be a game changer in the future.
“We’re talking about something like a hypersonic heavy bomber,” a Chinese military aircraft designer told the SCMP.
The person said researchers have created a “crazy” design that is working, and it could result in the development of hypersonic technology in the near future.
According to the Sun, such hypersonic jets might also pose a big threat to several countries across the world. Once developed, these planes would provide a nation the ability to hit enemy targets with their missiles in very little time.
In the past five years, China has successfully tested its hypersonic jet DF-ZF seven times, and the Asian giant aims to make this jet capable of achieving speeds five to 10 times the speed of sound. In 2011, the U.S. also tested its HTV-2 drone, but the plane crashed within minutes after achieving a speed of Mach 20.