US Air Force and DARPA team up on hypersonic weapon

“What do we want to do with this technology? We want to weaponize it.” That’s how a US Air Force spokesman described a hypersonic weapon project based on the experimental X-51A WaveRider. It would use “scramjet,” or supersonic ramjet technology, that has no moving parts and compresses air by sheer velocity after it’s accelerated to at least Mach 4 by a rocket. During tests in 2013, the WaveRider set a record by flying at Mach 5.1 (3,400mph) for over three minutes after it was dropped from a B-2H bomber. However, those trials were just a proof-of-concept, and the Air Force has teamed up with DARPA take the technology to the next level.

One reason the US is particularly anxious to do something with scramjet tech is because they’re not the only ones working on it. China is reportedly also testing hypersonic cruise missiles that could eventually blow through US defense shields at Mach 10. The Air Force’s chief scientist confirmed that “(China) is showing a lot of capability in this area.” He added that “the advantage of hypersonics is not just that something goes very fast but that it can go great distances at those speeds.” As an example, he said such a weapon would take only 30 minutes to cover the distance between LA and New York.

DARPA is already working on other scramjet projects, like the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept and High Speed Strike Weapon (above). The goal is to create hypersonic missiles that could be attached to current bombers and launched at Mach 5 “to hit time-critical dependent targets,” according to the Air Force. They want to have it ready by 2023, but said that “from a manufacturing standpoint, it’s got to be affordable.” Given its recent record, that might be the trickiest part.

Filed under:

Comments

Source: DefenseTech.org

Source: Engadget - Read the full article here

Author: Daily Tech Whip

This article is part of our 'News Tiles' service. The site is currently in Beta. When it is fully operational you will be able to search through and arrange the 'Tiles' to display a keyword, product or technology over your chosen time period. For example you would be able to display all of the leading tech articles on the new Kindle Fire, in one spot in real time. You will also have access to our own original reporting and analysis as well as a polished place to post your own thoughts & reviews here, amongst the Daily Tech Whip Community. Please let us know if you have any feedback via the contact form or via Twitter. Don't forget to come back next week and see our full site and claim your name and your own free tech blog.

Share This Post On