Last month, we noted that “hypersonic aircraft and missiles are being developed and tested by the United States, Russia, and China at an accelerating pace.” While the race for hypersonic technologies has certainly flourished among global superpowers, who realize that the first to possess these technologies will not just revolutionize their civilian and military programs, but will also dictate the future path for civilizations on planet earth.
Unbeknownst too many, but here stateside, there is a fierce competition between Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works team and the Boeing Company to harness such technologies. Back in January, a Skunk Works Executive hinted that a U.S. hypersonic bomber has “already been made.”
Oddly enough, internet sleuths on Google Earth last month discovered a secret hypersonic aircraft hiding at a mysterious Florida airbase located down the street from President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
Undoubtedly, all hypersonic programs are top secret, but appear to be much further along than what is preached in the headlines.
Last week, Boeing dropped more breadcrumbs regarding their hypersonic program, featuring an aircraft with surveillance and strike capabilities. The Russian Times says Boeing proposes to develop the aircraft in the next 10 to 20 years but already faces substantial competition from Lockheed Martin.
RT says in the latest Aviation Week report, the design for Boeing’s hypersonic aircraft, believed to be dubbed “Valkyrie II,” was unveiled at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics SciTech forum in Orlando, Florida back in January. Even though the hypersonic project has yet to be officially green-lighted, Boeing says the aircraft can fly around the world “in one to three hours” and serve as a multi-purpose aircraft.
“This is one of several concepts and technologies we’re studying for a hypersonic aircraft,” said Kevin Bowcutt, Senior Technical Fellow of hypersonics at Boeing Research & Technology.
“This particular concept is for a military application that would be targeted for an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, or ISR, and strike capabilities,” he added.
In a Facebook Live video on February 01, Bowcutt said the hypersonic craft would be able to cut through the air faster than a bullet fired from a gun.
“It’s two-and-a-half times the speed of a speeding bullet,” Bowcutt told Facebook Live viewers.
“It’s more than twice as fast as the Concorde. So basically you can get anywhere in the world in one hour across the Atlantic, two hours across the Pacific – pretty much anywhere between two points in one-to-three hours,” Bowcutt added.
If Boeing’s hypersonic project gets the green-light, it would further heat up the competition between Lockheed Martin, which built the SR-71 and is currently planning to develop a replacement called the SR-72.
Popular Mechanics says both Boeing and Lockheed’s hypersonic aircraft are relatively the same with the idea of ramjet/scramjet technology to make the aircraft fly at Mach 3 to March 5.
Boeing and Lockheed’s designs are very similar, both planning to use a combined-cycle engine that uses a conventional turbojet to accelerate to roughly Mach 3, and then a dual ramjet/scramjet to make the jump to hypersonic speeds. Boeing is working with Orbital ATK to develop an engine, while Lockheed has partnered with Aerojet Rocketdyne.
Below is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) family of Falcon-Hypersonic aircraft that are comparable in shape to Boeings proposed hypersonic aircraft.
If there is one thing that keeps the military–industrial complex from sleeping at night, it is “hypersonic.” One thing is for certain. Hypersonic flight is no longer a pipe dream. As we have noted before, “hypersonic aircraft and missiles are being developed and tested by the United States, Russia, and China at an accelerating pace.” The race towards hypersonic technologies is now, and whichever global superpower acquires the technology first, will change the economic and geopolitical playfield across the globe. Let’s just hope the United States is the winner here, otherwise, other countries acquiring the technology first could be splinter the U.S. empire.