Meet the High-Speed Strike Weapon:
“We’re taking lessons learned from X-51 and using them in development of HSSW [high-speed strike weapon],” said John Leugers, the principal aerospace engineer at the AFRL munitions directorate.
HSSW is a Lockheed Martin Skunk Works concept under which the company plans to demonstrate hypersonic flight and to provide the basis for future hypersonic programmes, including both expendable missiles and reusable aircraft.
On 1 May 2013, the X-51 performed a successful flight on its fourth test. The vehicle detached from a B-52H and was powered to Mach 4.8 by the booster rocket. It separated from the booster and ignited its own engine. The X-51 then accelerated to Mach 5.1 and flew for 210 seconds until running out of fuel. The USAF collected telemetry data for 370 seconds of flight.
Leugers said the emphasis on hypersonic technology is based on a threat assessment and highlighted a particular need for long-range systems.
I’m picturing a world in the not-too-distant future, in which our defense is automated. Something bad happens here or to one of our friends, and 30 minutes later a bunch of bad guys and their stuff gets blown up by hypersonic weapons.
We could call it “Skynet.”