US military tests new hypersonic technology in bid to fight China

The U.S. military has launched three hypersonic rockets, one of which traveled more than 220 miles in 19 seconds and another reaching a velocity of nearly 2,900 miles per hour at least eight times…

US military tests new hypersonic technology in bid to fight China

The U.S. military has launched three hypersonic rockets, one of which traveled more than 220 miles in 19 seconds and another reaching a velocity of nearly 2,900 miles per hour at least eight times the speed of sound, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

After the successful tests, the agency said the technology could be used to rapidly launch payloads at altitudes of greater than 30,000 feet. The planes would also be able to land remotely and back on the ground using conventional and then non-traditional landing sites.

In addition to testing of the New Aviation Horizons Demonstrator program, Darpa also this week released a study examining future hypersonic flight.

The study contains a final draft of recommendations for hypersonic test systems, research prioritization and existing and emerging hypersonic testing methods.

Various parts of the program ranged from looking at potential technology used in cars and self-driving cars to explore how moving at hypersonic speeds might cause changes to weather patterns.

Researchers and officials say hypersonic travel could increase the speed of travel from a five hour trip to a 25 hour trip. However, a one day trip could be possible at a speed of 186,000 miles per hour.

“This study is a critical next step in our vision to leverage hypersonic technology and ensure its safe and viable for real-world applications,” said Darpa director Sam Wallach. “Our national security requires the safe and effective use of hypersonic technologies. If we fail to act, our enemies could seize this opportunity.”

The research comes as the U.S. and China escalate their trade war after Washington announced new tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

In addition to testing an HTV-2 hypersonic vehicle, which averaged about 500 miles per hour, another X-51A tested an extremely high-speed kinetic energy scramjet engine that sent the plane flying more than 32,000 miles per hour. That was also a new record for the X-51A.

The third HTV flight followed shortly after by more than 220 miles per hour and two more tests.

Meanwhile, the weapon remains in orbit at an altitude of nearly 30,000 feet. In a statement, DARPA called the goal of the hypersonic test program “to demonstrate that the flight spectrum for hypersonic technologies can be understood, that they can be rapidly commercialized, and that hypersonic vehicles can be directed from a traditional carrier in the environment of our potential adversaries.”

“Reaching significant speeds and high altitudes in a wartime scenario has the potential to greatly speed targeted areas of destruction,” said Jon Spagnola, chief program officer of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office. “As a tangible proof of concept, this flight is an important advance in U.S. hypersonic warfighting capability.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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