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X-43 Can Fly Across US in Under 20 Minutes

Written by on Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

When people think of jets, one of the very first things that come to mind is speed. For good reason, too – many jets are capable of breaking the sound barrier (768 mph) without too much difficulty. Just to put that number into a slightly more manageable perspective, a jet travelling at the speed of sound moves 1 mile every 5 or so seconds.



While these numbers might be impressive, they are small potatoes compared to the world’s fastest jet-powered air-breathing aircraft, the X-43. Developed by NASA, the X-43 was built to allow scientists to experiment with hypersonic flight (hypersonic flight is five times the speed of sound, or over Mach 5.0).

Image: Above Top Secret



Achieving supersonic flight isn’t easy. The amount of preparation and fuel required to hit those kinds of speed are so elaborate that turning hypersonic flight into a regular feature of jets is a distant and possibly unreachable goal.

After being lifted to an extremely high altitude of over 15 miles above the surface of the earth by a carrier aircraft, the X-43 was released and burned its fuel for 10 seconds. During that time, the aircraft reached a speed of Mach buy generic valium 6.83.

A second successful test of the X-43 shattered the previous benchmark by achieving a staggering Mach 9.68. That’s 7,546 mph, or 2 miles per second. At these speeds, it would take you a little over 18 minutes to fly from D.C. to Los Angeles.

While these record-breaking speeds are sure to turn heads, the U.S. is a long way off from harnessing hypersonic flight into a practical means of transportation. The X-43 was unmanned and designed specifically to crash into the ocean after its flight, so the X-43 would have to be dramatically altered before it could be a useful addition to the Air Force.

Even if the X-43 were properly modified for a specific purpose, its range of uses would be very limited. If the X-43 could be weaponized and given a payload, it would be an offensive weapon what would be virtually impossible to stop. With speeds like that, the X-43 would explode on a target long before opponents could even register that it was in their airspace, and forget about shooting it down. No weapon on earth is designed to shoot down a target travelling at Mach 9.8.


If you want advice about the world of military aviation, there’s no better people to turn to than men and women who have sat in the cockpit and flown some of the world’s most advanced aircraft. With over 50 current and ex-warfighters on call, Strike Fighter Consulting Inc. can give you access to up-to-date, first-hand technical and tactical expertise.

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