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Success!! – China Tested “Unstoppable” Hypersonic Aircraft At 6-Times The Speed Of Sound



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Aug 07 2018
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Travelling at 4,563 mph (7,344 km/h), Starry Sky-2 completed its first test flight on Friday at a secret location in northwest China. The hypersonic aircraft was fired into space using its unique shockwave propulsion system – known as a waverider. During its flight the aircraft maintained speeds above mach 5 (3,806 mph) for 400 seconds and reached a top speed of Mach 6, or 4,563 mph.

 

A statement issued on Monday by the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA) said the flight was a “huge success”. It said – “The test … has laid a solid technological foundation for engineering applications of the waverider design. The aircraft, which landed in a designated target zone, was recovered ‘whole’.”

 

The aircraft was carried into space by a multistage rocket before separating and relying on its own power. Although still at the experimental stage, once fully developed, waveriders could be used to carry warheads capable of penetrating any anti-missile defence system currently available.

Russia Kinzhal hypersonic missile - Vladimir Putin

Zhou Chenming, a military analyst from Beijing, said the weaponised version of Starry Sky-2 could be ready to be deployed by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) within a few years. He said – “I think there are still three to five years before this technology can be weaponised. As well as being fitted to missiles, it may also have other military applications, which are still being explored.”

 

While the successful testing will open the floodgate for the hypersonic aircraft to be armed with conventional warheads, carrying nuclear weapon will take some time. However, the successful test of the new military gadget is sufficient to worry the United States – the world military superpower whose domination is increasingly being challenged by its rivals.

 

Earlier this year, Brad Clark, the Pentagon’s director of nuclear policy, warned that the United States needs to stay ahead of the sinister missile threats posed by Russia, China, North Korea and even Iran. Trump administration is especially “worried” about computer guided cruise missiles and hypersonic missiles that can reach staggering speeds of Mach 5 or 3,5000 mph and above.

China DF-ZF (WU-14) Hypersonic Glider

The Starry Sky-2 is not China’s first hypersonic aircraft though. China has been testing hypersonic glide vehicles since 2014. However, this is the only one that makes use of waverider technology. With its flatter, wedge-shaped fuselage to improve its supersonic lift-to-drag ratio, the new aircraft has greater manoeuvrability to make detection extremely difficult.

 

Still, the Chinese supersonic aircraft isn’t the fastest. In June, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic missile system had reached speeds of Mach 20 – more than 3 times the speed of Chinese Starry Sky-2. The Kinzhal (Dagger) was unveiled by Putin in March 2018 as one of six new hypersonic weapons that would imminently enter service in the Russian armed forces.

 

Though the Russian’s Kinzhal can deploy a nuclear warhead for a strategic strike role, what makes it truly invaluable is its ability to fulfil a tactical ship hunting role at extreme ranges. Even with zero warhead; the precision, range, and hypersonic speed possessed by Kinzhal means it could destroy a large warship using its kinetic energy impact alone.

Russia Kinzhal hypersonic missile - Vladimir Putin

And it’s already operational. According to Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuriy Borisov, the military has already refurbished ten MiG-31 interceptors to deploy Kinzhal air-to-air missiles since March this year. At speed of 15,345 mph, the Kinzhal means the Russian Air Force would be able to target U.S. warships up to 3,500 km away from its coasts.

 

Russia also has its own hypersonic glide vehicle – the Avangard – scheduled to be operational next year. The RS-28 Sarmat nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Putin claimed will render NATO defencess “useless” will be ready by 2020. The U.S., on the other hand, is busy working on its Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 and Advanced Hypersonic Weapon in order not to be left out.

Russia Avangard Hypersonic Glide Vehicle

 

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