Strike anywhere in < 1 hour
No manned pilots necessary, DARPA’s Falcon HTV-2 is unmanned and is in development to be able to attack anywhere in the world at Mach 17 to 22. Right now, the bullet like aircraft can fly fast and nose dive in the ocean.
One may wonder, why not just launch a missile to accomplish the same thing? Maybe, you want a recall. Maybe you want to maneuver and make changes upon arrival at the target. Maybe it’s cheaper to have a reusable aircraft.
“Experimental Aircraft to Go From Zero to 13,000 in Hypersonic Test Launch
Published August 09, 2011
Falcon HTV-2 is an arrow-shaped aircraft that launches in a rocket, separates and then glides at hypersonic speeds of 13,000 mph through the Earth’s atmosphere.
An unmanned aircraft that can travel at the breakneck speed of 20 times the speed of sound will take off Wednesday from an Air Force base in California for a test flight.
The Falcon HTV-2 is an arrow-shaped aircraft that launches on a rocket, separates and then glides at hypersonic speeds of 13,000 mph through the Earth’s atmosphere. (To put it in perspective, it would take less than 12 minutes to fly from New York to Los Angeles.)
Wednesday’s launch marks the aircraft's second flight. In April 2010, the Falcon flew for nine minutes, including 130 seconds of Mach 22 to Mach 17 flight, according to DARPA, the military's research arm.
The goal of the second flight is to "validate our assumptions and gain further insight into extremely high Mach regimes that we cannot fully replicate on the ground," Air Force Maj. Chris Schulz said in a DARPA news release.
Engineers adjusted the vehicle’s center of gravity, decreased the angle of attack flown and will use the onboard reaction control system to augment the vehicle flaps to maintain stability during flight operations, DARPA said.
The flight overview looks something like a rocket launch. The aircraft takes off in a rocket and eventually breaks free. It re-enters the Earth’s upper atmosphere and eventually evens out, like jet in flight. Eventually, the aircraft takes a nose dive into the sea near Kwajalein Atoll. In all, the Falcon HTV-2 would have flown 4,000 miles from its original take off at Vandenberg AirForce Base.
The goal of the project is to eventually enable the U.S. military to strike anywhere in the world in less than an hour.