China has reportedly conducted the maiden flight of a new hypersonic test vehicle, achieving speeds of Mach 5.5 for over six minutes, and reaching Mach 6.
The test of the unmanned system, designated Starry Sky 2, took place recently in Northwestern China, reports the official China Daily newspaper.
During the flight the vehicle reached an altitude of 30km and undertook several maneuvers.
The wedge-shaped vehicle was initially lifted by a solid propellant rocket, before detaching and performing its flight. China Daily reports that the aircraft is a “waverider,” using its own shock waves to generate lift.
The newspaper adds that this is the first time Beijing has revealed an interest in waverider technology. The vehicle was developed by the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics.
Beijing has long been interested in developing hypersonic technologies. Russia and the USA are also pursuing the technology, primarily for powering high-speed missiles.
In April, US Air Force secretary Heather Wilson said in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that the USAF is pursuing two hypersonic weapons prototyping programmes simultaneously: a hypersonic conventional strike weapon, or HCSW, which was contracted to Lockheed Martin Space on 18 April; and an air-launch rapid response weapon, or ARRW, which has not been contracted.