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US military's hypersonic aircraft fails

An unmanned US military experimental aircraft suffered a control failure during an attempt to fly six times the speed of sound.

world Updated: Aug 16, 2012 01:04 IST

An unmanned US military experimental aircraft suffered a control failure during an attempt to fly six times the speed of sound.

The X-51A Waverider was designed to reach Mach 6 (5,800kmph) after being dropped by a B-52 bomber off the California coast on Tuesday.

But the air force said Wednesday that a faulty control fin prevented it from starting its scramjet engine.

The aircraft broke apart immediately and fell into the Pacific Ocean near Point Mugu northwest of Los Angeles.

The Pentagon has been testing hypersonic technologies in hope of being able to deliver strikes around the globe within minutes.

The first Boeing-designed aircraft achieved Mach 5 for about 140 seconds in 2010.

A second flight last year ended prematurely, with the craft trying to restart its engine until it plunged into the Pacific.