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DARPA Building Jet That Can Go 20x The Speed of Sound

In their latest project, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is planning to build and test an experimental hypersonic jet that can hit Mach 20, which is essentially 20 times the speed of sound.

hypersonic missle DARPA

A hypersonic missile

At speeds like this, engineers have to completely re-evaluate aerodynamics, and will have to develop thermal protection systems unlike those in nearly any other aircraft today. The heat shields needed for this aircraft will have to be similar to those designed for a space shuttle. Steering and flying the plane is also going to be a big issue. With an aircraft that can travel three times as fast as the world’s fastest ballistic missile, they are going to have their work cut out for them.

The next generation vehicle will be augmented with rocket-based propulsion, and DARPA has set the estimated completion date for the project to be sometime in 2016.

via BI

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