Experimental Air Force aircraft goes hypersonic

Posted at: 05/03/2013 3:05 PM
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(AP) LOS ANGELES - An experimental unmanned aircraft developed for the U.S. Air Force has flown at more than five times the speed of sound in a test off California.

The Air Force said in a statement Friday the X-51A WaveRider flew for more than three minutes under power from its exotic scramjet engine and hit a speed of Mach 5.1

The WaveRider was released Wednesday from a B-52 bomber 50,000 feet above the Pacific and was initially accelerated by a rocket before the scramjet kicked in. The flight ended with a planned plunge into the ocean.

It was the fourth and final flight of an X-51A by the Air Force, which is studying ways to deliver strikes around the globe within minutes. Previous flights ended in failure or didn’t reach the intended speed.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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