Hypersonics is one of the buzzwords in the military word right now. Everyone is rushing towards fielding hypersonic weapons as fast as possible. The
Russians appear to be in the lead with their boost-glide Avangard nuclear weapon and their Kinzhal conventional missile: both of which are in
service with the Russian Aerospace forces. The Chinese have their WZ-8 rocket powered drone (Malan triangle) as well. However, China and the US
are in hot pursuit and, within 3 years, the US will begin fielding its own hypersonic boost-glide weapons in the form of a US Army missile battery.
The US appears to have a very long lead in the air breathing hypersonic technologies though, what is believed to be an F-22 sized unmanned
demonstrator, was spotted[5,6] flying into Palmdale. The US has been working on scramjets and may have had some nontrivial breakthroughs, finally
busting the 7 minute limit. That would make total sense given the existence of the demonstrator. Also, the Turbine-based Combined Cycle (TBCC)
effort has been underway for some time with DARPA and Aerojet in the AFRE program. It would be assumed though the US didn't have something
operational, except maybe a full scale prototype given the timelines. Except...indirect evidence of a real, active asset of some sort has come to
China has sorta flipped out.
China has ordered all of its design bureaus, research institutes and aerospace companies to set aside their differences and collaborate on the
development of an air breathing hypersonic aircraft. A demonstrator is supposed to fly in 2025 according to the timeline the Chinese government has
pushed. No BS. No rivalries. Get the job done. Or else. Something has scared them.
The technology behind it appears to be a combination of TBCC and Rocket based Combined Cycle (RBCC) technology. However, there is a twist. The
Chinese appear to be working on a SABRE-style precooler like being developed by Reaction Engines. It seems to be a traditional turbine with a
precooler and then a rocket/scramjet combo takes over. The proof of concept for the precooler for a Mach 4 turbine was done in 2018. The tech
validation with a flight worthy test article will take place in 2020. And then the flight of a demonstrator, as stated in 2025.
This came to light from a conference between different elements on the project. What exactly the conference was isn't exactly clear. Was it intended
to be a progress briefing for the government? Was it the equivalent of a Preliminary Design Review? or something else? Photos came out from it (see
below) and were posted to the Sino Centric Internet. The Chinese gov wouldn't let those images stay up unless they wanted them there.
Well, what does that mean?
China has a history of leaking information as signaling. They do so as to not cause a huge freakout by the US and others when the tech is revealed in
an official fashion. Call it something of a trial balloon, but intended to signal or warn of what will be coming. The Malan triangle, the J-20 and
others have all been examples of China releasing information in dribs and drabs until the final reveal. China seems to acknowledge sometimes some
tech is enough to provoke a really bad response from others, especially the US. If we know its coming, the US historically doesn't flip the table as
much and develops - often quietly - countermeasures.
What makes this different is China seems to have signaled far, far earlier than usual. Normally, it's a year or two before the reveal. Also, the
orders for everyone to not fsck around on this seems to be very unusual. China likes an internally competitive ecosystem for its military contracts
so as to get better results. The US does the same thing. It seems to me the deviation is significant.
My interpretation of China's change in development behavior is China saw something. Something they couldn't do anything about. This is their signal
they did see it and they are responding. There have been rumors of a fastmover to be unveiled. The point of the unveilings is often to have the US
state: we have this capability, knock XYZ off. The Chinese might have gotten the message without a move into the gray world. And this is their
middle finger back.
One image from the conference below (and confirmed). The second was associated with the postings in the Sino Centric Internet and I cannot confirm if
it is actually something someone translated or an image from the West that was uploaded as an explanation since it follows a similar if not the same
TL as the Chinese. it might have been a translation, too. IDK.
edit on 11-1-2020 by anzha because: redid footnotes