US Hypersonic aircraft crashes on test flight .


Senior Member
Mar 18, 2011
August 12, 2011 3:12 pm

US hypersonic aircraft crashes on test flight
By John O'Doherty

Darpa's Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 is shown in undated artist's conception
A hypersonic aircraft operated by a US defence agency has crashed into the Pacific Ocean on Thursday, the US military has said.

The Falcon HTV-2 is designed to fly from the US to anywhere in the world in less than an hour, with a top speed of 13,000 miles an hour. But engineers lost contact with the unmanned aircraft on Thursday after less than nine minutes of flight.

This was the second test flight of the Falcon, which is launched from the ground fixed to a rocket. The Falcon is designed to enter into orbit, separate from the rocket, and then re-enter the earth's atmosphere at the hypersonic speed of Mach 20. It was shortly after the vehicle reached this stage that scientists at the US Defense Research Projects Agency lost contact with the aircraft.

"We know how to boost the aircraft to near space," said Air Force Major Chris Schulz of Darpa. "We know how to insert the aircraft into atmospheric hypersonic flight. We do not yet know how to achieve the desired control during the aerodynamic phase of flight. It's vexing; I'm confident there is a solution. We have to find it.

"Darpa has assembled a team of experts that will analyse the flight data collected during today's test flight, expanding our technical understanding of this incredibly harsh flight regime. As today's flight indicates, high-Mach flight in the atmosphere is virtually uncharted territory."

Recent attempts to launch a hypersonic craft have been fraught with problems. An earlier test flight of the HTV-2 last year also ended in the aircraft crashing into the sea. Then in June of this year, the second test flight of Boeing's hypersonic X-51 aircraft ended prematurely and also landed in the sea.

Military planners hope that a successful hypersonic aircraft would allow the US to strike a target with a conventional – ie non-nuclear – warhead at short notice. At present, nuclear warheads are carried on ballistic missiles, which are also extremely fast, and travel at Mach 23, or about 15,000 miles per hour. However, policymakers fear that even if a ballistic missile carried a conventional warhead, any country targeted by the missile would always interpret the incoming ballistic missile as potentially carrying a nuclear warhead. They would, it is anticipated, therefore retaliate with a nuclear strike. It is believed that a hypersonic aircraft would avoid such an interpretation.



Senior Member
Sep 5, 2009
Oops, that out to be painful !! Wonder what's going on with our Hypersonic vehicle program by the DRDO.


Nov 16, 2009
Country flag
Though it crashed in pacific, experts are saying that it followed the planned flight path before crashing itself. However they had no contact with flying body.
Last edited:

Latest Replies

Global Defence

New threads