Replay: Air Force to retest X-51 WaveRider hypersonic aircraft

Replay: Air Force to retest X-51 WaveRider hypersonic aircraft
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“LA Times: The U.S. Air Force plans to launch an experimental aircraft Thursday that could potentially reach speeds of 4,000 mph over the Pacific Ocean in a test flight that could give the Pentagon a new way to deliver a military strike anywhere around the globe within minutes.

Built in Southern California, the unmanned X-51 WaveRider is being developed to deliver powerful warheads at tremendously high speeds with pinpoint accuracy almost anywhere on Earth.

Military officials say the need for the technology became clear in 1998 when the U.S. military tried — and failed — to kill Osama bin Laden. While positioned in the Arabian Sea, Navy vessels lobbed cruise missiles at training camps in Afghanistan, hitting their targets — 80 minutes later. By then, bin Laden was gone.

But with a hypersonic missile, such as the one being tested on the X-51, “the attack would have been cut to just over 12 minutes,” Richard Hallion, a former Air Force senior advisor, said last year in an Air Force Assn. report about hypersonic technology.”

A short description from Wikipedia:

“The Boeing X-51 is an unmanned scramjet demonstration aircraft for hypersonic (Mach 6, approximately 4,000 miles per hour (6,400 km/h) at altitude) flight testing. It successfully completed its first free-flight on 26 May 2010 and also achieved the longest duration flight at speeds over Mach 5.

The X-51 Waverider program is run as a cooperative effort of the United States Air Force, DARPA, NASA, Boeing and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. The program is managed by the Propulsion Directorate within the United States Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). The X-51 had its first captive flight attached to a B-52 in December 2009.”

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_X-51