Air Force scientists are working on hypersonic air vehicle

Air Force scientists are working on hypersonic air vehicle
How the Waverider might look. Credit: EPA

Engineers said the US Air Force is getting closer to testing a hypersonic weapon. They are developing a hypersonic weapon based on an experimental scramjet program. What is a scramjet? NASA said in a "scramjet," or Supersonic Combustion Ramjet, the oxygen needed by the engine to combust is taken from the atmosphere passing through the vehicle rather than from an onboard tank. "Researchers predict scramjet speeds could reach 15 times the speed of sound. An 18-hour trip to Tokyo from New York City becomes a 2-hour flight," said NASA.

Military.com said this refers to a "supersonic combusting ramjet, has very few moving parts and relies on an air-breathing propulsion system to travel faster than the speed of sound."

Back in 2013, Defense Tech reported that the "Air Force Sees Hypersonic Weapons in 2025"—these would be unmanned super-fast weapons. That same year, The X-51 WaveRider, an experimental "scramjet" made by Boeing, had reached up to five times the speed of sound for a record three and a half minutes. It was called the longest air-breathing hypersonic flight ever. Efforts continue and have reached a point where scientists with the Air Force Research Laboratory and DARPA, the Pentagon's research arm, are working on a hypersonic air vehicle that can travel at speeds up to Mach 5 while carrying guidance systems and other materials, said Defense Tech.

(Today's cruise missiles travel at speeds up to 600 miles per hour; hypersonic weapons will be able to reach speeds of Mach 5 to Mach 10, according to Air Force officials.)

Military.com said the WaveRider experimental scramjet was first propelled by a solid rocket booster, a surface-to-surface missile (MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System) A weaponized version of the vehicle would use another missile, not a ground system design.

"Certainly, the U.S. is not the only country involved in developing hypersonic weapons," Mica Endsley, the Air Force's chief scientist, said in an interview with Military.com. "The advantage of hypersonics is not just that something goes very fast but that it can go great distances at those speeds."

As an example, she said, to get from NY to LA "is a five hour flight in a commercial aircraft. With a hypersonic weapon, you could do that same thing in about 30 minutes."

Endsley said in Defense Tech that the Air Force and DARPA, plan to have a new and improved hypersonic air vehicle by 2023.

For the follow-on weapons program, the Air Force is teaming up with DARPA to shrink the technology into a hypersonic weapon that could fit on most of the bomber fleet, according to Kenneth Davidson, manager of the hypersonic materials development at the Air Force Research Laboratory.

The X-51 size was too big to put it on current bombers; it was made as a demonstrator. Davidson explained in Military.com: "There's no weapon in it. There are no sensors on board for controlling the guidance. So we're looking at making it more durable, getting the guidance control developed so that it can become a weapon system, developing the ordnance."

Other demonstration projects being developed by DARPA include the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept and Tactical Boost Glide. Their test flights are scheduled for 2018 or 2019.

Davidson said the goal was to make sure the Air Force "has the knowledge in 2020 or over the next five years to be able to make acquisition decisions using this technology."


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Jun 07, 2015
Let's take that money and invest it in education.

Jun 07, 2015
Let's take that money and invest it in education.


As if that would do a damn thing. Harrison Bergeron knows why.

Better, let's repurpose the technology to achieve Single Stage to Orbit.

Jun 07, 2015
No.

Do it yourself.

We have generations to educate.

Jun 07, 2015
We had a man fly a rocket-powered aircraft hypersonic, Mach six or seven, I think. He is not known for that flight, but the next one, where he went a little faster, reaching 4540 mph, in 1967, a record which still stands.

Both have interesting stories behind them.

Jun 07, 2015
Shootist claims re education
"As if that would do a damn thing. Harrison Bergeron knows why"
Really who is that, no link, this is a Science site Shootist, can you communicate more effectively ?

So you claim if money was available for education you wouldn't use it to improve your skills either for a degree or trade or to enable you to scientifically articulate more appropriately on a Science forum ?

Shootist states
"Better, let's repurpose the technology to achieve Single Stage to Orbit"
For what purpose ?

Seems you insist on increasing the military/industrial complex's control over the people by subsidising them whilst keeping rednecks ignorant & uneducated so they can be easily manipulated by politics & emotional pressure to conform ?

Is this a smart use of the nations dwindling resources, you insist on LESS education ?

Is this intelligent Shootist ?

Will it help you understand why CO2 is a big problem
http://en.wikiped..._forcing

Jun 08, 2015
You guys sure fight a lot about opinions. Opinions are like arseholes, everyone has one and they all stink.

Jun 08, 2015
Engineers said the US Air Force is getting closer to testing a hypersonic weapon. They are developing a hypersonic weapon based on an experimental scramjet program.

The article sounds like this is news, but this project has been going on since at least 2004.

The real question is: What's the point? Who are these weapons aimed at? What are the things they would prevent by their presence that current weapons systems don't?

Jun 08, 2015
The real question is: What's the point?


Many inventions are first thought of as implements of war or defence, such as the magnetron, which was first a radar to direct Allied bombing raids and then became the microwave oven.

It's simply a matter of who's paying.

Michael Faraday is quoted to say to a minister, upon being asked what's the use of electricity; "I cannot say what use it may have, but I can confidently predict that one day you will be able to tax it."

Jun 08, 2015
For what purpose ?


So you can get your iPad delivered from China today instead of next week.

It's also more efficient for passenger transport as well because travelling high in the stratosphere experiences very little air drag. Despite the nose cone of the craft glowing red from compression heat, it spends relatively little time in such regimes due to its speed and ends up consuming less fuel for the trip.

One could equally ask, what's the purpose of education if you're not allowed to use it on developing new technologies like this?

That's the same arrogance as the Soviet Union had, with people thinking they already know what the worthwhile things are and where all the solutions are found, so they neglected genetics, information technology and basic consumer preference in favor of the "important things" like policing everyone's opinions.


Jun 08, 2015
The real question is: What's the point? Who are these weapons aimed at? What are the things they would prevent by their presence that current weapons systems don't?
aa fails to appreciate the breathtaking dance if the arms race which produces countermeasures soon after a tech is developed.

Current interdiction weapons are becoming obsolete. Saudi Arabia just shot down a scud fired at it with their patriot system. The Sov - er I mean the Russians have similar systems for sale to our enemies.

Faster cruise missiles are needed in response and the west needs to be the first to develop them.

I know, things don't work that way in the land of eurodisney. But eurodisney can only exist with efforts like this to defend it, something eurodisnians are encouraged to ignore.

Better for ticket sales you know?

Jun 08, 2015
An hypersonic microwave oven... can't wait. I won't have to wait, either - pizza delivered anywhere in 30 minutes or less, piping hot, cooked en route. Thanks, DARPA!

Though I think it's more likely that an hypersonic missile will find a place in history in a war against China, and not in the civilian economy. Just sayin'.

Jun 08, 2015

Let's take that money and invest it in education
Lets take the money and use it to cleanse threads like these of assholes who post inane comments for the sole purpose of getting 5/5s.

You're such a good little boy gkam!

Jun 08, 2015
Isn't it interesting how the fastest man on Earth in an aircraft occurred almost 50 years ago? We had three X-15s then. I found them fascinating. We Air Force did not work directly on the X-15 itself, being a NASA vehicle, but were concerned mainly with the Mothership and the interconnections and communications systems.

Jun 08, 2015
I know, things don't work that way in the land of eurodisney.


"Eurodisney" is in the process of developing the SABRE engine, which is virtually the same thing. Just marketed to a different audience.


Jun 08, 2015
on a different note--

I don;t think this tech actually makes it mainstream... except maybe flights over the ocean... you can't really do mach 5 over land as the sonic boom will break every window on the way to the destination. but would be great San Francisco to Austrailia or Japan... or hops over the pond to London.

Jun 08, 2015
See:
http://sen.com/ne...ity-test

The advantage of the SABRE over a scramjet is that it can reach mach 25 and actually operate outside of the atmosphere, so it becomes a space weapon instead of just a very fast cruise missile.

Jun 08, 2015
These are not intended to help us, they are intended to be killing vehicles. The military gets everything first, and we who pay for them get the hand-me-downs, . . whether they work or not.

Jun 08, 2015
The problem is that at hypersonic speeds you get massive heating on the leading edges. I don't think it's economically viable to refurnish a good portion of a plane's surface area after each flight.
At Mach 5 you get to about 2000°C. Titanium melts at 1670°C. ceramic plates would be very heavy. Even with active cooling there's going to be damage. That's 'fine' for a single shot weapon. For a commercial passenger plane? Not so much.

Not to mention the type of nasty pollution any kind of ablation generates if this were a common mode of transportation.

Jun 08, 2015
Yes these are dangerous weapons, but nothing is more dangerous than a wasted education, as is the case with Muttering Mike.

Jun 08, 2015
AA,the 4540 mph flight was something terrifying. I will look up a reference for you regarding it.

Then, another side of the game occurred just before that flight, the first time humans flew hypersonic. It is too long for posting here. I guess I will have to paste these vignettes into my web page, so I can refer to them.

Jun 08, 2015
For a commercial passenger plane? Not so much.

That's not as difficult as a reusable reentry vehicle, where temperature get over 3000°C. But a hypersonic plane could be built with techniques and materials used to make gas turbines.

Ceramic plates would be very heavy

Actually, that's not true. A ceramic that could do well is silicon carbide. It has a density between titanium and aluminium, so it is not very heavy and work up to 1800°C in air and is one of the cheapest refractory ceramic.

Even with active cooling there's going to be damage

Jet turbines use active cooling to avoid melting the combustor's blades but there is no damage at all, or planes would crash often.
The combustor operates at the melting point of the nickel superalloy used to build the blades and microchannels are used to cool them.
If it can be done with a turbine, it can certainly be done with a hypersonic plane's leading edges.

Jun 08, 2015
That's not as difficult as a reusable reentry vehicle, where temperature get over 3000°C.

Reentry vehicles use very heavy ceramic plates. Look at the ones used on the space shuttle. That's not an option for a hypersonic passenger plane where weight is everything.
The cooling in turbines are limited to very small parts and they use air from the outside. But for hypersonic planes we're talking the entire leading surfaces of a plane and no cool air from the outside (as it is heated upon impact instantly)
A liquid cooling system that could handle that would be enormous (and enormously heavy).

I think this technology is stricly good for single-use (i.e. destructive purposes)

Jun 08, 2015
A liquid cooling system that could handle that would be enormous

Then I suggest that you read about transpiration cooling, it's basically pumping water in the porous leading edges and water is discarded immediately after use (no heat exchanger).
http://elib.dlr.d...1%5D.pdf

This also solves the problem of weight because the tiles can be made thinner thanks to the small amount of water that does a very good job cooling things down.

Jun 08, 2015
This new weapon system is great for the economy - think of all the new technologies it will spawn. First we build the hypersonic weapon. Then we have to build an anti hypersonic defense system. That means we need new radar systems and maybe IR detecting satellites to track the incoming weapons. Oh, and we also have to develop a new nuclear weapon to mount on this baby. Great fun - and lucrative. Nothing like a rocket launch and a big boom - really makes organ hard. But we still have to fund all of the other systems out there, such as submarines and fighters and bombers and anti-missile systems, too. Piss on education and health care and good roads and bridges and zero-carbon energy to stave off global warming because hypersonic weapons are a real threat and if we don't build them they will build them and we will all be toast.

Jun 08, 2015
I realize this may sound revolutionary, but what say we skip the cold war arms race v2.0 and just head straight to getting people and their effects from A to B more quickly? Who wants to stay stuck in the twentieth century?

Let's just skip the potential widespread death and destruction, and end the current atrocities. Because killing and destruction of people's effects is against local, state, federal, and international laws.

The people are currently misinformed so badly that we have a 'war' on drug dealers instead of a war on the arms/weapons of mass destruction dealers.

Jun 09, 2015
Proto the failing politician strikes again. No contribution to the scientific substance of the discussion Not even any humour. Proto the political troll: is it possible that one of these hypersonic weapons would be fast enough to shut you up before you comment?

Jun 09, 2015
AA, once again you are dribbling nonsense. As clearly noted by jeremy_h, you are out of your depth. Stick to stuff you know something about, if anything.

Jun 09, 2015
I realize this may sound revolutionary, but what say we skip the cold war arms race v2.0 and just head straight to getting people and their effects from A to B more quickly?

Needs also to be less polluting than the current mode of transport. Speed would be nice, but it isn't the end-all requirement.

Jun 09, 2015
"Reentry vehicles use very heavy ceramic plates. Look at the ones used on the space shuttle"


They're not "very heavy". They're actually extremely light at 140 kg/m^3 because they're made of a silica fiber foam that's 90% empty space.

And they only get up to about 1,650 C on re-entry.

The heating doesn't come from friction against the plates, but from the radiant heat from the air that compresses ahead of the vehicle. There's actually a boundary layer of air that moves very slowly along the surface.

That's why, if you can create a cool boundary layer at the nose of the plane by injecting a cool fluid that flows over the nose to prevent direct contact with the hot air, then all you need to do is reflect the radiant heat away and you're good to go. This is how gas turbines operate at temperatures above the melting point of their blades.

Jun 09, 2015
While all you "experts" give us your informed opinions, let me send you to a site which shows you what it is really like.

Please note it is not bravery which puts test pilots in those aircraft, it is SKILL, the ability to hold extremely-tight tolerances for control, with pilots who are intelligent, not "natural" pilots.

I was just gone from Eddie's when this flight took place.

http://tacairnet....ht-ever/

Jun 09, 2015
"They're not "very heavy". They're actually extremely light at 140 kg/m^3 because they're made of a silica fiber foam that's 90% empty space."
-----------------------------------

It is a foam. Our insulation reps while in the Foundry business in the late 1970's brought us a sample of a to-be shuttle "tile."

It was about six inches on a side and at least four-five inches thick, with that black finish on one surface only.

Jun 09, 2015
@bluehigh: I'll dummy it down, just for you --
political science: war is good for absolutely nothing.
social science: war is destructive, atrocious and illegal.
biological science: drugs, a health issue, not criminal (excluding Iran-contra affair, an example selling drugs to finance war)

Jun 09, 2015
""Eurodisney" is in the process of developing the SABRE engine"

-Maybe they just want faster rollercoasters?

Funny - as usual I googled this and got

"Walt Disney World Theme Park Tickets Latest Addition to Travelocity's TotalTrip Dynamic Packaging Shopping Engine; Tickets to the World's Most Popular Vacation Destination Now Available on Travelocity, Completing Disney TotalTrip Offering"

-on the sabre.com website. So it seems that disney is looking for faster SHOPPING ENGINES. Yes that makes sense.

Speaking of sense;

"the air must be compressed to around 140 atmospheres before injection into the combustion chambers which raises its temperature so high that it would melt any known material. SABRE avoids this by first cooling the air using a Pre-cooler heat exchanger until it is almost a liquid"

And these exchangere are going to remove all this energy in only a few inches travel distance. Fantasyland?

Jun 09, 2015
Gkam,
You gotta start living in the real world. I would bet the first thing anyone ever did with a rock was hitting another cave man in the head with it.
The only reason our country has borders in the first place is because of the military.
The military is going to always going to have the top technology available, as that is how a world of competition works, you should be damn thankful you live in the only country where that is true in the context of the capabilities of every other nation on earth.

Many common technologies today began in the military and if what you want is education, mach x travel will do more to shrink the world and teach each other about ourselves than any half baked "let's just throw a bunch of money at schools and all our education problems will be solved" idea. I'm a lifelong democrat but you just say some stupid stuff sometimes.


Jun 09, 2015
"for hypersonic planes we're talking the entire leading surfaces of a plane and no cool air from the outside (as it is heated upon impact instantly)
A liquid cooling system that could handle that would be enormous (and enormously heavy)"

-Guessing again... no research, no assumption that designers already have options in mind.

"In another wind tunnel researchers test special ceramics that can withstand extreme temperatures. These materials can protect the leading edges of a hypersonic plane that will be heated by air friction to thousands degrees celsius. Again, passengers wold be unlikely to feel much difference. Burkard Esser, a research engineer in fluid mechanics at DLR said: "The objective is to keep the hot part narrow, so that the heat load to the passengers would remain as small as during the normal flight."

"thermal barrier walls to suppress heat transfer from high-temperature environments at cruising flight... A heat management system is also investigated"

Jun 09, 2015
"You gotta start living in the real world."
-----------------------------

I was in the Air Force and at Edwards the first time Pete Knight went hypersonic. I worked on our rocket-powered NF-104s, the Space Trainers and most of the other stuff there at the time, (but not the Blackbirds or XB-70s), and got cured of all that wonder by the reality of the costs, . . in all respects.

Jun 09, 2015
The military is going to always going to have the top technology available, ...
That's exactly what Hitler thought when he had scientists to help with rocket technology and atomic energy -- so, what happened to his war plans, and what was wrong with his logic, the same logic you just espoused?

Jun 10, 2015
Well, maybe Steve 200mph Cruiz is busy. So what happened was, Einstein blew the whistle on Hitler, and trusted the country with a civilian in charge, known for its democratic deliberation before consenting to war. (Yeah, I know)

[Note to bluehigh, the following contains science]
Considering the dangers of code like stuxnet (i.e., back doors even in industrial equipment), and surveillance powers that make "1984" look shortsighted, it's not much of a stretch to compare Ed Snowden's decision to reveal the truth, trusting basically every civilian on the planet with it, to Einstein's decision to blow the whistle about atomic energy used destructively, certainly with respect to character, integrity, intelligence, self sacrifice and service to humanity, if not physics.

Jun 10, 2015
"The military is going to always going to have the top technology available"

No. If you throw the kind of money that is thrown at the military into research institutions then you'd get WAY better tech than what the military produces. Look at the spending numbers and what tech actually is produced by the military. The ratio is pitiful compared to others.

Jun 10, 2015
"If you throw the kind of money that is thrown at the military into research institutions then you'd get WAY better tech than what the military produces. Look at the spending numbers and what tech actually is produced by the military. The ratio is pitiful compared to others."

-This is an opinion from someone who thinks there is no need for a military to begin with. I have to assume it is biased and certainly not capable of being justified with hard facts.

Private industry is driven by profit. If something like the above project offers no financial incentive then it would not be pursued.

But the military would still think that the research is vital and so would begin providing that incentive. Along with much input into exactly what they want and what it needs to do.

And it would insist on competitive bidding.

Hey - this sounds pretty much like how things are at the moment doesnt it?

One reason for govt research into tech like this is the need for secrecy.

Jun 10, 2015
"I was in the Air Force and at Edwards the first time Pete Knight went hypersonic. I worked on our rocket-powered NF-104s, the Space Trainers and most of the other stuff there at the time, (but not the Blackbirds or XB-70s), and got cured of all that wonder by the reality of the costs, . . in all respects."

-And how does a 20+yo noncom circuit board wirer get any idea of mil costs 'in all respects'? Even one who worked directly for McNamara as you so insanely claimed?

Jun 10, 2015
Those who have not been in military operations do not know the true cost of them. More money was squandered on the Electronic Battlefield than for the Manhattan Project, and for each we got a new version of the Police State.

I see blank posts for some here on ignore, but they are stay-at-home 'experts" with no experience whatever, who think they know as much as the rest of us who actually worked on these things.

They saw it in the movies.

Jun 10, 2015
The military doesn't always have the best stuff and never will but that's not the point. The big difference is when the military wants something they want something that works and wants it within a set time frame. In other words if it works then go with it, improvements can come later. Research institutions on the other hand seem to find something that works but instead of actually putting it onto the market just want to continue to improve it to make it perfect before it gets to market and so it normally never does. A good example is all the improvements to batteries and solar cells in the last five years just going by the articles on this site. Very few of all those improvements have actually made it to the markets involved and the rest still being 'studied'.....

Jun 10, 2015
"If you throw the kind of money that is thrown at the military into research institutions then you'd get WAY better tech than what the military produces. Look at the spending numbers and what tech actually is produced by the military. The ratio is pitiful compared to others."
-This is an opinion from someone who thinks there is no need for a military to begin with. I have to assume it is biased and certainly not capable of being justified with hard facts.
Quite a few hard facts concerning the F-35 are available, not the least of which is that the National Science Foundation could've been funded for the next 60 years (ref) with what has been wasted on a plane that "can't turn, can't climb, can't run" (ref).

Jun 11, 2015
"Those who have not been in military operations do not know the true cost of them. More money was squandered on the Electronic Battlefield than for the Manhattan Project, and for each we got a new version of the Police State"

-And how does a 20+yo noncom circuit board wirer get any idea of mil costs 'in all respects'? Even one who worked directly for McNamara as you so insanely claimed?

"I see blank posts for some here on ignore"

-And youre a LIAR george. The tumor that is your ego wont let you ignore any posts about you.

"They saw it in the movies"

-Better than seeing it in a VA drug-induced hallucination isnt it?

Jun 11, 2015
"Quite a few hard facts concerning the F-35 are available, not the least of which is that the National Science Foundation could've been funded for the next 60 years (ref) with what has been wasted on a plane that "can't turn, can't climb, can't run" (ref)"

-I guess you dont remember that they said similar things about the M1 tank, the F111 bomber, and the M16, all of which proved themselves with decades of service in many conflicts.

Cutting edge tech is often released with problems which are fixed during the course of field testing.

BTW you do know the NSF is a govt agency and not private dont you?

Jun 11, 2015
"Through its Awards to Stimulate and Support Undergraduate Research Experiences (ASSURE) Program, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) supports undergraduate research in DoD-relevant disciplines. For this purpose, since FY2003, DoD has contributed several million dollars per year (through an interagency agreement with NSF) to support particular REU Sites that focus on research relevant to DoD's interests. The Sites below, though managed by NSF, are supported by funds from DoD's ASSURE program." (ref)

Jun 11, 2015
" . . the National Science Foundation could've been funded for the next 60 years (ref) with what has been wasted on a plane that "can't turn, can't climb, can't run"
----------------------------------------------

It is what happens when the Military Industrial War Complex owns Congress. Or when it is run by those who think they "know", but have no experience in that field, such as those who came from business, McNamara and Rumsfeld. They are both War Criminals.

Jun 29, 2015
Russia recently revealed that they already have hypersonic missiles which can get past current US missile defense and are nuclear-capable. China revealed that they had hypersonic missiles last year.

I'm not a fan of war, but we don't want to fall behind.

Jun 29, 2015
If you want to hear about the time man first flew an aircraft into the hypersonic range, ask. It is real history, not like the stories you see in the movies. You will not find it on wiki, I promise.

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