Scientists with the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Pentagon’s research arm are working to build a new hypersonic air vehicle that can travel at speeds up to Mach 5 while carrying guidance systems and other materials.
Air Force Chief Scientist Mica Endsley said the service wants to build upon the successful hypersonic test flight of the X-51 Waverider 60,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean in May of 2013.
Endsley said the Air Force and DARPA, the Pentagon’s research entity, plan to have a new and improved hypersonic air vehicle by 2023.
“X-51 was really a proof of concept test. It showed that you could get a scram jet engine, launch it off an aircraft and it could go hypersonic. It was able to go more than Mach 5 until it ran out of fuel. It was a very successful test of an airborne hypersonic weapons system,” Endsley said.