Fact: The U.S. Military is reportedly developing a Hypersonic Jet capable of moving at Mach 5 or 5x the speed of sound.
The U.S. is currently developing a hypersonic jet capable of speeds exceeding Mach 5 or 2.5 times faster than a speeding bullet. In other words, the speed of Mach 1 is 761.2 mph. This hypersonic jet would be capable of Mach 5, or equal to 3,806 mph. The speed of sound is 768 mph. So this jet would be moving at a pretty quick pace. The fastest land speed record went supersonic speed at 763 mph.
The program to produce the vehicle started in 2004 and was dubbed the X-51A program. The total cost of the program was estimated at $300 Million dollars. Recently, the final test run of the Waverider took place May 2013 where it reached a top speed of 3882 mph or just over 5.1 times the speed of sound. It took the vehicle just over 6 minutes to reach its top speed, before it was intentionally crashed into the Pacific Ocean.
The plane was really a proof of concept and here is why. The jet never took off, rather was released from a B-52H stratofortress at an altitude of 50,000 feet where the jet accelerated to Mach 4.8 in under 26 seconds powered solely from a solid rocket booster. The jet finally separated from the booster at an altitude of 60,000 and accelerated to Mach 5.1. Thereafter, the rocket ran out of fuel. The proofs of concept were that the jet could be launched off an aircraft and go hypersonic.
In the future, the Air Force and the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) will take into account novel materials capable of withstanding hypersonic speeds and introducing advanced guidance systems that are smart enough to point the plane in the correct direction at split seconds. So if you aren’t already jaw-dropped, that isn’t even scratching the surface. DARPA is working on several programs. In 2011, the agency conducted a test on a HTV-2 bomber. The bomber was able to reach a top speed of Mach 20 (15,224 mph) before losing control. This has led to research in other hypersonic combat aircraft, fighter jets, and weapons.