U.S. and Australia Conduct Secretive Hypersonic Flight Tests
Kyle Maxey posted on July 24, 2017 |
The U.S. and Australia test a hypersonic rocket in the deep outback. How close are we to hypersonic ...

Deep down under, in far South Australia, the U.S. and Australian militaries have recently completed a series of hypersonic rocket tests.

The flight trials, which were conducted at the Woomera test range, are a part of the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HiFIRE) program that’s seeking a missile that can fly more than 10 times the speed of sound (~8,000 mph).  

Will hypersonic missiles change the response times and readiness of militaries?
Will hypersonic missiles change the response times and readiness of militaries?

Over the course of the last decade, the U.S. and Australia have been hard at work attempting to engineers ever-faster hypersonic missiles, and successful tests have been reported. But the two allies are far from the only countries seeking to crush the hypersonic (Mach 5+) boundary. Both Russia and China have been throwing some their best aeronautical minds at the technology.

Still, hypersonic craft are still in a nascent stage of development and therefore a bit of secrecy surrounds their development programs. But even with that being the case, BAE Systems Australia did admit that, “We were pleased to support [Australia’s] Defense Science and Technology Group (DST) with… most complex of all HiFiRE flights conducted to date.” BAE continued, “This flight trial is a significant step forward in proving this technology and enhancing our collective understanding of how it could be employed across a range of applications.”

In the end, hypersonic missiles are valuable to the military because they complete a cornerstone of the U.S. services’ ambitious Prompt Global Strike (PGS) initiative. According to reports, the PGS is in the business of developing a conventional weapon that can strike anywhere in the world within an hour. With that capability, the military would be able to respond to developing situations like mobile ICBM movements or terrorist gatherings.

Currently, the HiFIRE program has developed a rocket that can reach at least Mach 8 (6,089 mph) and at that speed a missile would meet the military’s under-hour deployment mark. However, it’s yet to be determined if a missile can be engineered to last the duration of an hour-long flight, or if it can successfully carry a weapons payload.

That being said, a successful test is still a successful test, and it appears that the military is getting ever closer to hypersonic speeds that are so staggering that they’re nearly unimaginable

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