A recent test of a new hypersonic aircraft by the Chinese may have been the fastest in the world. A vaguely worded report released Friday on the website of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China indicated that an initial test flight of the super-fast plane took place at an unspecified high-altitude. The plane reportedly utilized a “unique flying style.” The AVIC is China’s state-owned aerospace and defense enterprise.
The report was then quickly taken down but not before giving military analysts reason to believe that China is working on a new hypersonic aircraft that is capable of travelling at five times the speed of sound, also known as Mach 5.
The model of the plane has not been provided. It is also unknown what China’s intentions with the fast aircraft might be. However, it is believed that the aircraft is capable of flying at record-breaking speeds.
The AVIC report referred to “test pilots,” but this might be describing drone pilots. Thus, it is currently unknown whether the aircraft is manned or unmanned.
Experts state that if the aircraft is indeed manned, then it would reportedly fly quicker than the SR-71 Blackbird, a strategic reconnaissance aircraft that was long-range and capable of speeds more than Mach 3. The SR-71 Blackbird was operated by the United States Air Force until its retirement in 1998.
However, if the Chinese aircraft is more of an unmanned drone, it would be more properly compared to the SR-72, a concept drone that is envisioned to reach speeds in excess of Mach 6.
Chinese officials in the report said that there are still many technical issues that must be dealt with before a stable hypersonic aircraft of such a nature can be developed.
However if the report is indeed real, this shows a major step forward in China’s defense capabilities.
The current record for the fastest aircraft ever goes to the North American X-15, which reached speeds of up to 4,520 miles per hour. The X-15 was retired in 1968.