Testers hypersonic missiles faced with the unknown

United States tested a hypersonic missile X-51A Waverider, which in the course of the first flight was able to accelerate to a speed exceeding 5 times the speed of sound. Almost a month before the U.S. Air Force tested the hypersonic FHTV-2, the speed of which the flight exceeded the speed of sound 20 times. Despite the dissimilarity of external 2-systems, their still a lot to do. Tests and one or the other have been successful only in part, with all this in both cases, operators are faced with a phenomenon that is not explained.

Communication failure

Initially, the first X-51A flight was scheduled for May 25, 2010, but almost an hour before the flight tests have been carried over for the day. A prerequisite for this was the cargo ship, appeared in the place to drop hypersonic missile in the Pacific. The next day bomber B-52 Stratofortress with X-51A under the wing took off on schedule. Once at altitude of 15 thousand feet above the Pacific Ocean, he threw a rocket and returned to base.

During the flight the X-51A U.S. Air Force planned to gather information from numerous detectors missiles on the thermal effects on the structure of the aircraft, the behavior of the glider at hypersonic speeds, as the work of the engine and avionics. This information will be taken into account in the second flight of the hypersonic missile which, According to preliminary data, scheduled for October-November 2010.

X-51A under the wing of the B-52

According to the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, which participated in the experiment, the booster X-51A brought a rocket to an altitude of 19.8 thousand meters, where the involved hypersonic ramjet engine, dispersed the missile to Mach 4.8 (5.5 thousand kilometers per hour). After that, the rocket rose to a height of 21.3 meters and a thousand picked up speed in 5-handed. On this success and resulted in the start began incomprehensible.

Under the plan, the rocket was to develop a speed of Mach 6. With all of this X-51A engine had to work in over 300 seconds after the rocket fell to the Pacific Ocean. Take it from there no one was going. In fact rocket engine worked for about 200 seconds, then the operators sent X-51A signal to self-destruct. The reason for this anomalous behavior has on-board equipment of the device — for 140 seconds of self-missile telemetry data began to come intermittently, with interruptions grew longer.

Before the missile launch all its parts and appliances have been tested painstaking manner. Interestingly, in the month before the X-51A, which is engaged in the development of Concern Boeing, the U.S. Air Force tested a hypersonic aircraft FHTV-2 (Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2), which also ended the interruption of communications. Flight of the unit took place April 20, 2010.


Apparatus launched aboard a rocket Minotaur IV from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. According to the plan of the first flight, FHTV-2 was due to proparhat 4.1 thousand nautical miles (7.6 thousand km) and half an hour to fall near the Kwajalein Atoll. During the flight, the device developed speed 20 max (23 thousand kilometers per hour). Communication with the device before the start of interrupted services that speed, and when the speed FHTV-2 have gained 20 grammes contact with him was lost completely. Where fell off the machine, do not report to the U.S. Air Force.
Engineers involved in development projects X-51A and FHTV-2 until no explanation disruptions due to no avail. Currently being processed and purchased disk imaging study. All the conclusions of professionals will be considered in repeated tests hypersonic vehicles.

The global response

Both projects represent the enthusiasm for the U.S. military and, above all, for the Pentagon, who developed the concept of "Rezvy global response." FHTV-2 is created specifically to this concept, and the X-51A, is expected to join her after the research will be completed six test runs.

About FHTV-2 clear until a little. It is possible that FHTV, kitted ordinary warhead will be used instead of ballistic missiles, as the start of the latter may be regarded by other countries as a nuclear threat. The U.S. Air Force is also considering the introduction of devices that are similar FHTV, as intelligence and surveillance systems. They can be employed in this role, if will be incapacitated spy satellites placed in low earth orbits. In addition, FHTV plan to use for the prompt launching satellites into orbit.

"Needle" and "Cold"
In Russia, the development of devices that are similar X-51A and FHTV-2, deals with the Central Institute of Aviation Motors Baranov. The first flight of the missile "Cold" on the basis of anti-aircraft missiles S-200 took place in the 1970s. During the flight, the rocket reached a speed of 5.7 Mach. At the current time, the institute is working to create a hypersonic aircraft "Needle".

In the middle of April 2010 concern Boeing announced that he wanted to create on the basis of X-51A hypersonic missile X-51A +. Its development will begin in a couple of years, provided that the unique X-51A successfully pass all the tests. With all of this funding for the project will begin in 2011. At the latest plan to install a missile devices frisky identification and destruction of enemy targets in the criteria for active opposition. Presumably, the missile could be equipped with nuclear warheads and ordinary.
X-51A + also have the opportunity to dramatically change the line of flight movements, which significantly reduce the chances of its defeat by means of enemy air defenses. Hypersonic rocket also learn how to navigate in space. Boeing does not rule out the possibility of using an improved hypersonic unit as a combat drone, Curb precision instrument.

The fact that the promising devices, similar to the X-51A + or FHTV-2 are almost the most coveted weapon the Pentagon did not have to hesitate. In August 1998, the area of the Arabian Sea, the U.S. launched cruise missiles BGM-109 Tomahawk, which were to kill militants camp in Afghanistan. In this camp, according to intelligence, and there was Osama bin Laden. Rockets flew to the least goals than two hours. For comparison, at the X-51A it would take about 13 minutes, and at FHTV-2 — 4.5 second.

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