April 3, 2017

SOONER, PLEASE: Hypersonic Attack Drones by 2040?

Developing recoverable drones is much more challenging given the level of autonomy and re-entry needed for hypersonic vehicles to descend and perform ISR missions.

“A booster sends it into the atmosphere and then it dives down to its target,” Zacharias said. “A re-entry vehicle would need to be maneuverable with sufficient wing area so it can avoid counter-missiles. We need to design that chamber and make it stable to allow for maneuver.”

The advantages of hypersonic ISR drone flight are multi-faceted.

“You could fuel one of these to go for 1,000 miles in ten minutes. It speeds up the kill chain,” he said.

While today’s cruise missiles travel at speeds up to 600 miles per hour, hypersonic weapons will be able to reach speeds of Mach 5 to Mach 10, Air Force officials said.

“Faster, please” felt a little presumptuous for a headline about a Mach 10 attackbot.

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