THE US AIR FORCE’S attempt to fly an experimental aircraft at six times the speed of sound, or about 3,600 mph, on Tuesday.
It was hoped that the unmanned X-51 WaveRider would reach Mach 6 Tuesday when dropped by a B-52 bomber after its take-off at the Southern California coast near Point Mugu. Engineers hoped it would sustain its top speed for 300 seconds which is twice as long as it’s managed to go before.
However, officials have blamed a faulty control fin for stopping the super-sonic combustion ramject engine from starting properly, reports the BBC.
“It is unfortunate that a problem with this subsystem caused a termination before we could light the scramjet engine,” said Charlie Brink, of the Air Force Research Laboratory at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
“All our data showed we had created the right conditions for engine ignition and we were very hopeful to meet our test objectives.”
Last year in its most recent test, the X-51 fell for about four seconds before its booster rocket ignited, but the aircraft failed to separate from the rocket and plunged into the ocean.
Designed by Boeing, the aircraft is intended to allow the Pentagon to deliver strikes around the globe within minutes.