RAF to develop hypersonic planes which could top speeds of more than 3000mph to dodge missiles - The Florida Post:
The RAF has set out plans that could see the production of hypersonic planes flying at more than 3000mph.
The Ministry of Defence has announced it is investing £10 million to develop new hypersonic engines that could be used to power manned fighter jets and drones.
As missile technology makes flying combat aircraft increasingly risky, flying up to five times the speed of sound will mean fighter jets can destroy targets before they are engaged by enemy air defences.
Unveiling the two-year project at the Air and Space Power conference on Wednesday, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, the head of the air force, said the new engines would be “exploring the boundaries of technology”.
“This is not an idea, a lot of this technology exists,” he said.
“Our potential adversaries are looking at these things as well. We have noted very carefully what the Russians are doing.”
High-Mach, or hypersonic, refers to speeds roughly between Mach 1, the speed of sound, and Mach 5, which is the current practical limit for planes and drones. Beyond that speed the chemical properties of the metals making up the aircraft will be affected.
The space shuttle reached speeds around Mach 5 on re-entry to the earth’s atmosphere and needed special ceramic materials to withstand the extreme temperatures generated.