back to article China looking to develop scramjet missile tech

Reports are emerging that Chinese thruster-boffins are mounting a major push to perfect supersonic combustion ramjet (scramjet) technology, in a move that could stimulate American research. According to a writeup in Aviation Week, details of the Chinese efforts emerged at the recent American Institute of Aeronautics and …


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  1. Jerry H. Appel

    Technology vesus Time

    I feel like rehashing the Microsoft vs DoJ argument: by the time we resolve this in the courts technology will have changed to make the argument obsolete. By the time scramjet propulsion becomes practical for military systems, directed energy weapons will make them sitting ducks.

  2. Webster Phreaky

    Clintons Already Arranging Sale Of Us Technology for Campaign Funds

    Just like back in 1995, when Bubba Bill Clinton signed off on the selling of VERY sensative ICM Missle, Computer and Atomic technology secretsw to the Commies in China for campaign funds (so did Al Internet Gore later) the Democrat traitors including Hillary, I'm sure are "making the connections" in Bejing.

    Democrats = American Traitors

  3. Ross

    Mach 6 <> big deal

    If you hoy a missile at a boat from 100 miles out doing mach 6 (the missile, not the boat) you still give them just under 1 and a half minutes to detect said missile and then throw a white hot wall of lead at it, as is the trend these days.

    I admit that's a lot less time than you'd get at a paltry mach 2, but if these multi ???illion pound boats can't track and destroy a very hot piece of metal filled with hydrogen in under 90 seconds then I want my taxes back!

    The Chinese would be better off infiltrating Microsoft and updating Windows for Warships...

    And as an aside, anyone know what effects flying 20 foot above the sea at mach 6 has on dolphins and the like?

  4. SpitefulGOD

    men in black

    US/UK super secret agencies have had Scramjets for decades, although seeing as their tech never gets leaked or released (similar to the light chips they already have) looks like we'll have to wait for the inferior government / corporate versions.

  5. Steve


    "anyone know what effects flying 20 foot above the sea at mach 6 has on dolphins and the like"

    I bet flying at Mach 6 would give a dolphin a hell of a buzz... Might cause problems for the whalewatching boatds, though.

  6. b shubin

    Fait accompli

    superweapon research has more utility in pushing the envelope in civilian and space applications, than it does in making superweapons (although that's a nice bonus). the Chinese are not likely to ever use said superweapons, because a conflict that would require superweapon use is so very unlikely, in the present political and economic situation.

    globalization has succeeded beyond the US Republicans' wildest wet dreams. over 90% of everything is now manufactured in China or elsewhere overseas, over half of everything is designed and/or developed overseas by multinationals, and the US produces very little domestically.

    one of the unintended consequences of this is that the national debt now stands at 9 trillion USD, and a good chunk of that was borrowed from China (the US is now in the comical position of also owing money to Mexico - how the mighty have fallen). skilled jobs are being offshored as quickly as outsource recruiters can hire people, and India, China and Russia have lots of engineers to work on all the superweapon research the Chinese can afford (India and China are graduating tens of thousands of technology-degreed professionals every year); they have plenty trained technologists left over, to pick up offshored design and development work from the US.

    the US and China are inseparable economically, and the prospect of conquering and occupying China is uniquely unappealing (1.2bn population, large standing army, cohesive society, nuclear weapons, advanced technology, vast and difficult geography, a long history of conflict and hardship...). US foreign policy has created a political environment that has resulted in the first Chinese-Russian mutual defense treaty ever (giving the Chinese first access to Russian weapons, research and technology), and China looks to remain totalitarian at least until it completes its transition to a post-industrial information and services economy, to go with its enormous manufacturing capacity.

    the US has created a colossal Chinese tail, that now wags the American dog. anyone who complains about technology sold to the Chinese through the back door (i'm looking at you, Webster), has somehow failed to notice the bulk of knowledge transfer going out the front door.

    the Chinese engineers that attended the conference, most likely gave presentations on the unclassified parts of the research, to troll for ideas to resolve some of the bugs and problems they have encountered during development. it is naive to think that they would discuss anything classified, or give out the full scope and progress of their research program.

    additionally, when one considers the sorry state of US gov't security in general, and military security in particular (Windows server shares and ftp directories with all-access permissions, unprotected by firewalls, come immediately to mind), it is silly to pretend that the US has many secrets from the Chinese, especially because, with the US educational system in decline, many of the engineers working in the US are likely to be Indian, Chinese, Russian, or other foreign-born.

    there's not much left to keep secret. the horse has bolted, folks, and the barn has rotted and fallen apart. there is no door left to close.

    the country is owned, like the US colonies were owned by the British Empire, though for different reasons. US colonies were a market for British goods, a taxable population, a dumping ground for criminals and nonconformists, and a source of raw material and slaves; the present US is a market for Chinese goods, a source of intellectual property and industrial/economic expertise, and a good place to spend all that capital created by the Chinese economic miracle. Lenovo-IBM and Acer-Gateway buyouts are just a sneak preview of what is to come. in 10 to 20 years, the US will likely be a largely Hispanic nation working for Chinese-owned corporations, and considering the present US economic and financial situation, that would be the optimal, best-case scenario.

    anyone in the US who wants to have a future in politics or management, would be wise to learn to speak Spanish, Mandarin, or both.

  7. Levente Szileszky

    Lunatics rejoyce...

    "By Webster Phreaky

    Posted Monday 3rd September 2007 16:52 GMT

    Just like back in 1995, when Bubba Bill Clinton signed off on the selling of VERY sensative ICM Missle, Computer and Atomic technology secretsw to the Commies in China for campaign funds (so did Al Internet Gore later) the Democrat traitors including Hillary, I'm sure are "making the connections" in Bejing.

    Democrats = American Traitors"

    Exactly this kind of retarded lunatics like this Webster guy who poison everything in American life, the same moronic hallucinaries who lie in a blink of an eye, without a second think - Webster fella, what's up with Bush selling out *everything* military for private companies including Saudi ones? How's Halliburton moving to Dubai?

    You right-wing nuts are the most pathetic kind, seriously.

  8. Tony

    Fair warning

    Racism. Pure and simple.

    "...or airliners that could carry Australians home in just two hours, or something else nice."

    Be alerted that this blatant defamation of the esteemed Antipodian's will be answered with a vigorous lawsuit from Duey, Takem and Howe.

    You have 2 (two) days to retract your insinuation that shipping Australians home in just 2 (two) hours is "nice".

    We will consider a financial remuneration along with a plea of no fault to absolve you of your atrocious attack against Australians.

    Sincerely, Tony

  9. Levente Szileszky

    US already at Mach 10

    "men in black

    By SpitefulGOD

    Posted Monday 3rd September 2007 17:41 GMT

    US/UK super secret agencies have had Scramjets for decades, although seeing as their tech never gets leaked or released (similar to the light chips they already have) looks like we'll have to wait for the inferior government / corporate versions."

    Err I don't know about that but I know precisley it was El Reg where I read DARPA is already at Mach 10:

  10. Graham Lockley

    Nothing wrong with a little paranoia

    'Just like back in 1995, when Bubba Bill Clinton signed off on the selling of VERY sensative ICM Missle,' <snip>

    To paraphrase a chart single of recent years ' Who let the Trolls out ? '

    Maybe if 'Phreaky' had employed a spiel chicker program I may have got further into his argument.

  11. Webster Phreaky

    Szileszky, Stupidity and Sophomoric Simpletons

    Typical Extreme Lefty retorts as exemplified by morons like Szileszky offer plenty of accusations, name calling and no proof of substance. Fling around enough stupid statements and you hope no one notices that you're just an overflowing toilet of crap. How does anyone with half a brain, something that Levente wishes he even had a quarter of one, draw a comparison between a belligerent totalitarian nation of a couple billion and Dubai or private US companies??!! What a moron!

    So for all the and shubin Democrat loving, Levente Lefty retards, here's some proof of Clinton and the anti-American American Lefties (Democrats) that fraternize with our enemies for the sake of power and money.-

    The China Connection Is the Real Scandal

    U.S. Pays for Clinton-Riady-China Connection

    The China/Clinton connection has come full circle

    The real China connection

    Hillary Clinton, Norman Hsu, connections with Chinese military

    HILLARY CLINTON'S BIGGEST COVER-UPS (1993!! how prophetic!)

    and there is a LOT more that this blog doesn't allow me to list - just Google - Gore, Bill Clinton or Hillary Clinton "China or Communist Connections" and be amazed with FACTS, not lefty hyperbole!

  12. Aubry Thonon


    "And as an aside, anyone know what effects flying 20 foot above the sea at mach 6 has on dolphins and the like?"

    I'm no expert, but I'm pretty certain dolphins would not like flying 20 feet above the see at mach 6.

  13. E

    WRT Aussies

    A few of their women are OK, but on the whole I agree. Perhaps disposable scram jets could be developed that disintegrate after landing in Australia.

  14. E

    re: shubin

    "...US foreign policy has created a political environment that has resulted in the first Chinese-Russian mutual defense treaty ever (giving the Chinese first access to Russian weapons, research and technology)..."

    Hmmm, I seem to recall such a treaty in the 50's (maybe 40's) between Stalin's USSR and Mao's China. It was based largely on Communist fellow feeling, but it didn't last very long.

    That aside, I think you are mostly on the money with the comment about transfer of technology.

    However to say that the USA created a Chinese tail is giving too little credit to the Chinese. The Chinese clawed their way back over the past five decades from some 150 years of foreign harrassment, colonialism, exploitation and occupation - they did much of that in the 50's, 60's & 70's in the face of hostility from the USA *and* USSR. Much historical evidence indicates that before about 1750 and damage from large scale contact with the west and then Japan, China produced the bulk of finished non-military goods on the planet. And, WTH, China has existed approximately 10 times longer than the United States anyway!

  15. Robin


    You can tell there's an election brewing, Republicans start using the word 'traitor'.

  16. Anton Ivanov

    Loads of wrong assumptions

    Dunno who is making wrong assumptions the Chinese or El Reg, but a scramjet as a shipkiller is totally useless.

    The greatest advantage of Sunburn (and its non-export bigger brothers) is that it can fly just low enough to have a very short window of opportunity for the ship to kill it. It is not the time between the detection from early warning and impact that matters, it is the time between the actual ship AA radar detecting, locking and the countermeasures firing which is crucial. A 2M missile can skim at 10m or less which gives an acquisition range under 10 nautical miles. As a result the kill window drops under 10s which for all practical purposes is a sure kill especially if there is more than one incoming missile.

    A 6M scramjet flying at the same height will interact with the surface. This opens a whole new can of aerodynamic worms which are likely to be beyond anyone's ability to deal with (including Chinese). Realistically by the time the problems are solved it will be obsolete. So even if they build it, the missile will have to fly at 30m+ which completely nullifies its speed advantage. It will not provide any practical advantage compared to a Sunburn.

  17. Eric

    The author really doesn't know clearly the Chinese

    Chinese never show off if they don't have the technology, to avoid losing face. Also, I am so surprised to see the countries like USA are still so proud of their technical advantages which in fact don't exist any more.

    Let's wait and see.

  18. Dr. Mouse

    Ship 'em home

    Brilliant. We will soon have a solution for prison overcrowding. Super-fast jet, shove all the convicts on it, and send em to Aus. Then we have a continental-sized prison!

    I am gonna have to patent this idea before someone steals it :D

  19. Andy Gates

    Ship 'em home patent?

    Sorry mate, I think the Crown has prior art.

    Mind you, that won't stop a patent-thug IP extortion company from trying it...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Scramjet technology is not a secret. The plans are public, at least nasa put all of their papers online. Also people seem to forget the classic german fanless jet engines that could operate in pulse or continous flow mode. (although when they were developed 60 years ago they did need a catapult for takeoff, but this can be replaced with an electrical starter compressor) This pulse detonation technology could be used for modern hypersonic jets at least some nasa research from 1998 suggest it. The patents are public, so everybody can build it. (and China doesn't seem to care about patent rights) Btw. the same engine could be used for low speeds with moving valves, for high speeds with open valves and as a rocket engine with closed valves and an internal oxidizer. (this could even be used for takeoff)

    About light chips: Anybody can find a couple of public designs for optical circuits, but they are currently discrete parts based. The best examples are the optical memory and the optical amplifier, both used for optical communication systems. Putting together a simple computer from these network parts is not really hard, but doesn't worth the money. You are better off buying an array of cheap 10Ghz risc cpus already built into a nice cluster frame.

  21. John

    being joined at the hip does not prevent war

    France and Germany were big trading partners before the first world war. Though I suspect Russia has more to fear from China than the USA, what with their falling population and vast resources. China has been making friends with African countries, but Russia is a lot closer.

  22. Alex


    It really shouldn't amaze me how pathetic the human race really is, after all this time most people still can't just get along.

    We have people abusing each other over their country of origin, their political afiliations and over their level of technological knowledge.

    Having a competitve environment is a good thing, anything that reduces the US dominance (or perceived dominance) is also a good thing. We will all benefit in the long term by countries like China joining in and adding their expertise to technological advancement.

  23. Rob Crawford

    Is it me or

    is there a couple of people around here who's Lithium supply has run out.

    Not being aerospace type, it's surprising that even I know that scram jet information is very freely available.

  24. Andrew Shirley

    Re: Dolphins

    They would probably be a bit annoyed by the missiles flying overhead but the explosion and resultant bits of ship floating/oozing past would really ruin their day.

  25. Ted Treen


    Webster Phreaky -

    Your new brain is ready.


  26. Law


    You are the reason America scares me! lol

    Thank god China are advancing, maybe then they can protect us the next time a webster-type lunatic gets into power over the pond and decides we are the new axis of evil because we stole the english language from them! :)

  27. dpg


    Good grief, trolls have undergone a bit of a population explosion lately. Has there been a reduction in predator numbers? and can we place the blame on global warming? Time for a cull methinks.

    @Anton Ivanov wouldn't a new scramjet just fly up to the 10 mile range at mach2 and therefore 10m above the sea, then accelerate hard to the ship to reduce the intercept time from 10 seconds to (say) 5?

  28. Alistair

    Who let the trolls out

    Woof, woof woof woof - how does that translate into Trollish?

    Nothing like a good bit of war for advancing technology on a bit.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get with the times.....

    US black projects have developed multiple aircraft which have been flying for decades which go upto mach 16. There are various methods of propelling an aircraft to that speed, its not a big deal. When I hear of an aircraft going mach 25 or above I will be impressed. Its 2007, its not as if governments have been sitting there since the SR-71 doing sweet f/a.

  30. Levente Szileszky

    @ Webster: thanks for confirming my point...

    ...about you: you ARE indeed a retarded troll. :)

  31. b shubin

    China, Russia and the US


    there's a difference between a "trading partner" relationship and putting all manufacturing into another country, to which you owe lots of money.

    to put it quite simply, the US can't go to war with China, as the US economy can not sustain itself without Chinese imports. there are other reasons, but that is the most obvious. the US economy would implode within a few weeks at most, as distribution and retail outlets shut down for lack of product.

    Russia has nothing to fear from China, they're good friends now, and may well become one country in all but name within the next 10 to 20 years.

  32. Rob Crawford

    Have we missed something

    We should equip the dolphins with rocket boosters.

    They could easily clear 10 meters.

    Enabling the boosters when the FUD level gets high will allow us to create a living barrier of dolphins.

    Possibly we could also fit lasers to their heads, to shoot down the missiles should the dolphins mis time their leaps

  33. Daniel

    Webster the Wonder Troll

    Ok, I know Webster has been called out enough already, but I just can't resist...

    "Democrats = American Traitors"

    "Typical Extreme Lefty retorts as exemplified by morons like Szileszky offer plenty of accusations, NAME CALLING and no proof of substance." [emphasis added]

    Webster, you are as hypocritical as the steady stream of Republican moralist politicians who keep getting caught up in sex scandals (not that Democrats don't have sex scandals too, but not usually after spending their careers campaigning on a moralist platform). When you are ready - or capable - of forming a coherent argument, I suggest you try again. Or, stick around and get laughed at.

    *points and laughs at the troll*

    -daniel (an Independent, NOT a Democrat nor a Leftist, thank you)

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    China and the US

    Shubin is right. This is the first time I've seen it said in "public", but I am also convinced that in about 10 years China will own the US and that Chinese will be the foreign language of choice for British school children who want a future. As for war between the two countries, I am reminded of Isaac Asimov's Foundation, in which, "after x months of the most unfought war in history, the Republic of Correll surrendered unconditionally." Said Republic obtained all it's high-tech goods from the Foundation but resented its hegemony. However it could not keep its kit working in face of the Foundation's embargo. The US (and the EU and...) are pretty close to being in the same boat!

  35. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Above *what* sea level?

    I was at the beach last week and there were these things the locals called "waves". I was in Devon, so they were pretty tiddly, but I gather they can be a tad larger out in the western Pacific.

  36. Rob Crawford

    Re: Above *what* sea level?

    Waves in the Pacific, I'm afraid not, Clinton sold them to the Chinese, Saudi or Alien Lizards (delete as appropiate) for campaign funds

  37. Jon

    @ Everyone

    My my how the troll population is growing!! (OK, that's been said before) but it does make me laugh.. You're a SUCH troll.. No you're a retarded troll.. Nah nicky nah nah... Grow up kiddies..

    On the dolphin front.. Why are we worried? If the dolphin is flying at M6 10m above C level, it may be unhappy, but then it's going to an untimely death in the explosion 90 seconds later anyhow..

    And I'm sure that the Chinese wouldn't be as cruel to Dolphins as the British would be to Australians! After, it's a bit much to put them on a 2 hour flight back down under and then blow them up when they get there.. Did Tony ever get round to suing or was he put on the fist Beta phase test flight that was running Windows for Missiles?? That'll be the one that has just booted up and then immediatly crashes.. Oh, hang on, that's all of them!! Or more likely the Chinese misslie developers are open source developers and so long as you agree not to use the missiles for profit, they'll let you have the blue prints..

    Oh god, these jokes(?) are getting too geeky.. Time to stop.

    You're a big fat troll.. No, you're a republican troll, not you're a democrat troll and the reason why everythings horrid.. No, you're a big.... Oh SHUT UP!!!

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