New Warplane Can Break the Sound Barrier … Six Times Over

Next on the list? Outfitting it with a 60 KW laser.

By The Editors
March 17, 2016 9:00 am

Are we in the middle of hypersonic arms race?

When you take into account recent news of China and Russia developing their own faster-than-light war fleet, it certainly seems so.

Add to that Lockheed Martin announcing this week that it, too, is close to developing technology that would enable a warplane about the size of its current F-22 to reach Mach 6 — six times the speed of sound — then yes, we have something of a full-blown international strongman game. Question is who’s swinging the hammer the hardest?

An F/A-18F during transonic flight (from Wikipedia)

Says Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson: “We’re now producing a controllable, low-drag, aerodynamic configuration capable of stable operation from take-off, to sub-sonic, trans-sonic, super-sonic, and hypersonic to Mach 6.” All this at the cost of less than a billion dollars, mind you.

Hewson also revealed the field testing of a 60-kilowatt laser weapon system that can “disable targets with pinpoint accuracy” from more than a mile away. To put it in perspective, consider that a 30 KW laser can bore a hole through two-inch steel in seconds.

The 60 KW laser is set for delivery to U.S. Army ground vehicles later this year, and while it’s unclear if there are plans to eventually deploy the weapon on the Mach 6 jet, Hewson says the company is moving forward with a “hypersonic air-breathing weapon concept.”

So, you know, slow and steady ain’t gonna win this race.

Image via Lockheed Martin

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