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The Air Force later this month is set to test what could be a ground-breaking flight of a hypersonic missile.
The X-51 WaveRider took its maiden flight last year, demonstrating the longest-ever flight of a supersonic combustion ramjet engine, also known as a Scramjet. But the next test flight is expected to fly faster and farther: at speeds of up to Mach 6...
...and lasting four minutes.
"Our next flight is scheduled for March 22"...
...The X-51 will be launched from a B-52 bomber flying over the Pacific Ocean Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range, and then will be rocket-boosted to speeds up to several times the speed of sound before transitioning to Scramjet power.
The X-51 program is a consortium between Boeing and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. The customers are the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), with support from NASA.
Boeing X-51 PDF Data Sheet
The mission: Attack anywhere in the world in less than an hour. But is the Pentagon's bold program a critical new weapon for hitting elusive targets, or a good way to set off a nuclear war?
A waverider is a hypersonic aircraft design that improves its supersonic lift-to-drag ratio by using the shock waves being generated by its own flight as a lifting surface.
Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 112
Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 113
Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 116
Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 117
Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 55
Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30
Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 9
Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 30
146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard