There’s an innovation gamechanger race, Hypersonic Travel, accelerating among the US, China and Russia to create the world’s 1st Mach 5+ hypersonic jets that can carry people and cargo. The US Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – DARPA – is investing millions, more than $100 million just this year, to advance development of hypersonics. DARPA is also working with the Air Force Research Labs, the Army and Navy to develop hypersonic missiles.
Russian President Vladimir Putin recently claimed that Russia’s long range intercontinental ballistic missiles are hypersonic capable and can defeat the US missile defense system.
China also is aggressively developing hypersonic jets and weapons. A research team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences is building “a waverider shaped airframe” and fitting it to a “high pressure capture wing” to give it the lift it increasingly needs as it adds weight.
Waveriders are aircraft bodies shaped to skim along the top of pressure waves created by their own supersonic flight to generate accelerating lift. The high pressure capture wings attached to the top of the plane give it additional lift.
Chinese researchers believe their design “the hypersonic I shaped aerodynamic configuration” solves the basic problem of hypersonic planes — building a plane with enough room inside for passengers and cargo that doesn’t knock itself out of the sky. That would be an innovation gamechanger.
Meanwhile, in the US, DARPA officials expect to start flight demonstrations on hypersonic aircraft, working with the Air Force Research Labs, in 2019.
The US Air Force’s Chief Strategist Geoffrey Zacharias anticipates “having hypersonic weapons by the 2020’s, hypersonic drones by the 2030’s and recoverable hypersonic drone aircraft by the 2040’s.”
Hypersonic innovation in aircraft design and travel will be an innovation gamechanger in upcoming years and an accelerating center of global competition.