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Six times the speed of sound: US tests aircraft

world Updated: Aug 15, 2012 23:01 IST

The US military conducted an unmanned test flight on Tuesday of its hypersonic Waverider aircraft designed to move at six times the speed of sound using technology that bridges the gap between planes and rocketships, a military official said.

A B-52 bomber launched the remotely monitored, nearly wingless experimental aircraft, officially known as the X-51A between 10am and 11am, John Haire, a spokesman for the 412th test wing at Edwards Air Force Base in California, said.

Results of the test will be released on Wednesday, he said. The plan had been to conduct the test flight over the Pacific Ocean after a staging at Edwards, said Deborah VanNierop, a spokeswoman for Boeing Co, which was involved in constructing the craft said in a statement.

The Waverider is designed to reach speeds of Mach 6 or above fast enough to zoom from New York to London in less than an hour. But rather than commercial air travel, the military has its eye on a more readily achievable application - using it to develop high-speed cruise missiles.