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June 13, 2012

Air Force Wants Hypersonic Missiles for Stealth Jets and the Russians are Concerned

Wired Danger Room- For decades, the military has tried — with little success — to build missiles capable of traveling at breakneck, hypersonic speeds. Missile tests, however, have been uneven, with repeated failures punctuated by the occasional stunning success. Now the Air Force is taking a bigger role by seeking to build another hypersonic missile, this time for its stealth fighter jets.

The Air Force’s desired “High Speed Strike Weapon” would travel at five times the speed of sound or faster, theoretically launching from a stealthy F-22 Raptor jet or a future F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and traveling so fast and at such long distances as to render an enemy’s anti-aircraft systems defunct.

There are other technical challenges in launching a scramjet missile from a fighter jet instead of a sub-orbital rocket or a B-52, though. It’ll still need to have air-breathing engines that compresses the air around the missile into a supersonic mixture of oxygen and fuel — absent a turbine. But it will also need to be small enough to be carried by a jet fighter while carrying the necessary advanced navigation controls, precision guidance tools and sophisticated sensors, plus the warhead. The service will also still have to find the right mixture of composite materials like titanium and tungsten (among others) to hold up under the enormous heat generated by Mach 5, Mach 6 and even faster flight.

The Air Force is requesting a whopping 150 percent increase in funding for the program, from $6.2 million now to $15.4 million in 2013 in one “thrust” of weapons development.


An X-51 Waverider hypersonic missile attached to the wing of a B-52 bomber. The Air Force seeks to build a smaller variant for its stealth fighters. Photo: Boeing


Space Daily - American research into hypersonic weapons, which the U.S. aims to complete by 2015, represents an especially serious threat to Russia, acting Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Friday.



Russia and India will work together on Hypersonic Weapons

"This breakthrough decision by the U.S. opens up for them the prospect of a transition from a demonstrator prototype to creation of a multirole hypersonic missile by 2015-2018," Rogozin said during a visit to the Raduga "Bereznyak" state-owned missile design bureau at Dubna in the Moscow Region.

Rogozin, who has responsibility in the Russian government for the military-industrial complex, picked out American development work in the X-51, Falcon, HiFire and HyFly programs as examples of the perspective threat posed by U.S. hypersonic development work.

"The undertaking of this work allows us to lay the basis for creation of a national competitor in hypersonic weapons," he said.

Development of such a weapon should be discussed at the highest levels of state, he said.

Earlier this year India announced a joint project with Russia's NPO Mashinostroeniye missile producer to build a hypersonic successor to its BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.

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