Pentagon plans to build an air vehicle by 2023 that can travel at speeds up to Mach 5 while carrying guidance systems and other materials, Military.com reported Monday.
The US military plans to use the successful 2013 test of its X-51 Waverider hypersonic scramjet for building a more traditional aircraft that can operate at the same speed. Even though, The X-51 traveled at Mach 5 and collected data on its flight, the Pentagon now needs an aircraft that could transport equipment.
The US Air Force and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are working together with the mission of making such an aircraft.
Air Force Chief Scientist Mica Endsley told Military.com on Monday, “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 system,” she added.
"What they are trying to do now is build the whole system so that it is not just about the engine. You have to have materials that can operate at the kind of temperatures you have when you are going at hypersonic speeds.” Endsley said.
“You have to have guidance systems that will function when you are going at those types of speeds. There are a bunch of technological challenges that have to be addressed to make a functioning system that will work," she said.