back to article X-51 ordinary-fuel scramjet to fly in December

Flight tests of a powerful US military scramjet prototype able to exceed Mach 4 while burning ordinary jet fuel have been scheduled for December, according to reports. Aviation Week reports today that the X-51 "WaveRider" scramjet will now fly in December. The X-51 will be released from a B-52 bomber mothership operated by …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Ian Ferguson

    Come on, be honest

    This technology is being developed for missiles, not planes.

  2. Lionel Baden


    takeoff from turbo then goto HYPER !!!!! RRRAAAAARRRRR

  3. Apocalypse Later

    @ Ian Ferguson

    "This technology is being developed for missiles, not planes."

    Why? Missiles work fine with rockets. They don't have to land, refuel, and take off again. Single-use tech is appropriate and cheap for a craft that destroys itself at it's destination.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Waverider is a generic nomenclature

    for a hypersonic vehicle that uses its own shockwave to generate lift

  5. corestore

    Another great Scottish invention

    The Waverider concept was developed in the 1960s at Glasgow University and ASTRA, by Professor Nonweiler:

  6. Roger Stenning

    Remember HOTOL?

    HOTOL was the aborted Rolls Royce project to develop a reusable spaceplane for UK usage. It was file-13'd by the Government in 1988, amid rumours of US and EU interests, conflicts, and other assorted conspiracy theories.

    More reasonably, while the engines showed promise (and are still allegedly on the secret list in the UK), the airframe was apparently beset with technical problems, and this is probably why funding was withdrawn in 1988.

    Still, it's a pity that HOTOL engine development didn't carry on over here, coulda been nice to have a working engine others could buy from us. Instead, as usual, we develop an idea, and the bloody yanks nick it.

    Why am I hardly surprised?

  7. Martin 6 Silver badge

    @Come on, be honest

    Yes but Mach6 planes look much cooler on the promotional video accompanying the funding request.

    The aim is to make a Mach6 cruise missile to solve the problem that the current subsonic ones are cheap, effective and reliable.

  8. Steve X

    missiles, schmissiles

    Most modern space rocket technology was developed as part of the Nazi V2 program. Let the military develop it, they have (our) money to burn.Then we'll use it to get to Australia without spending 24 hours in an economy class seat.

  9. andrew mulcock



    use normal jet to get to high altitude, then DIVE like .... to MACH 4, and start scram JET.

    Now that sounds a fun plane ride.

    maybe try it out on the shuttle ?

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Tom Paine

    Attn aviation crazytech boffins!

    What's up with the supposed black-project Aurora thing - is that still (?) taken seriously, or is it strictly a fringe fantasy? Personally, as an armchair fan of shit than goes fast who doesn't spend a lot of time keeping up on such matters, I'd love to believe it's true, even if it's no damn use to man nor beast. Anyone care to comment? Yes, we speak SpaceAlien.

  12. Deadly_NZ


    They already have a missile that does 4 times the speed of sound the Phoenix that goes at 3000 MPH yes it's a solid fuel system thats not good for planes hence the Scram jet for planes

  13. Fred 3

    lol El Reg cos...

    that link article about the nazi doodlebug thingy has the bestest EVER description of DARPA:

    and I quote El Reg:

    The Vulcan programme, regular readers will not be surprised to note, comes to us courtesy of DARPA - the Pentagon's intellectual game reserve where crazy applecart-bothering boffins can roam wild and hairy and free, pooping the rich fertiliser of federal greenbacks on bizarre tech-project seedlings.

    /end quote


  14. stu 4


    eh ? what the hell would be the point for missiles ?

    most missiles I'm aware of are a strictly 'use once and destroy' variety.. not known for having to be refueled...

    and rocket engines work pretty damned well for that. what the hell would be the point of a scramjet missile exactly ? a massively more complex technology to be:

    1) slower

    2) less reliable

  15. Chris 35


    I agree but you've got to look at the other side of the coin: Russia has announced plans to land people on Mars (a little while yet to go but they have plans). This could just be the opening gambit for another space race.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Chris 35

    I very much doubt the Russians could land so much as a fart on Mars at present. The Chinese, however...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The point would be a long range cruise missile that is small enough and moves quickly enough to provide little to no warning for the poor sods you're shooting at...

    Think high speed, inter-continental nuclear warhead delivery system...

    Changing the fuel from Hydrogen to standard AV-gas would help to significantly reduce the size of the weapon - Nothing to do with refuelling...

  18. Emilio Desalvo

    "Regular" JP7?

    "In the X-51, regular JP-7 jet fuel will swiftly replace the initial ignition stream of burning ethylene."

    The JP7 is nothing but "regular". It was developed for and used only on the SR-71 Blackbird, the plane that dripped fuel until its fuselage heated and sealed itself while flying.

    The "regular" jet fuels used by the military are JP8 (US Air Force) and JP5 (US Navy on board carriers, MUCH higher flash point).

  19. goggyturk

    Missiles? Planes?

    What about a scramjet missile that hits its target at Mach 6+? Wouldn't need a big warhead as kinetic effects do most of the damage - a bit like the MOP on steroids.

    I'd like to see a S-400 try to intercept one of those - it would certainly have less chance than against a F-22 or B-2.

    I'm more ambivalent about this kind of thing. Most of the technology we use today was developed for or used by the military at some point, especially aviation tech.

  20. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    To answer everyone who has asked 'Why?'...

    The primary reason this is going is that it still has a budget, and is therefore employing people...

    If you want a military reason, an air-breathing jet will always have a much greater range than a comparable rocket. For air-to-air engagements, outranging your opponent is very important, but you have to do it with something quick.

    Slightly larger missiles come under the heading of cruise missiles. Here. scramjet technology would enable you to build a comparatively small cheap weapon which flies rapidly round the world and then behaves like a cruise missile/Predator. So when the US get some intelligence that a 'Bad Guy' (tm) is having a meeting in Mogadishu, they can attack a nearby wedding party within minutes from the comfort of their own burger bar.

    These two justifications have allowed the budget to remain, which takes us back to reason #1....

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Well I don't care what they use it for, just that they get it working, after doing that they all may look round the table go "well that was fun... got any use for it?" "Nope" "Oh well, next please" then leave it to business sorts to see if they can put the darn things to use.

    If scientists were practical we'd probably all be sat in towns with massive well maintained fires for heat, light and other things. Why invent something new when you can keep improving the same old thing?

  22. Columbus

    at Mach 6

    I would still be late for work

    according to Wolfram Alpha-

    @5000ft =

    2006 m/s or

    7223 km/h

    sensible comment, as the scramjet has no moving parts, could they use zip fuels?

  23. James Hughes 1

    @Remember HOTOL

    See this article for what the designer is up to now...sorry its Wikipedia..

  24. Paul 4

    Possibly used for...

    Specal OPs deep drop? I can bet the designers have plans for, at the outbrake of war, being able to load up a few of these with elite troups from home soil, and HaLo droping them near the bad guys and taking them out within a few hours.

    What will actualy happen is, like the blackbird, it will be very fast, but painfully expensive and take days of planing to fly, so they will just end up using ships and Jumbos as normal, but it means that for a while the heads of the worlds armed forces can have action film dreams.

  25. Mr Mark V Thomas
    Black Helicopters

    Re: Remember HOTOL

    Hmm, Skylon & it's Mach 5 airliner deriviative, Lapcat....

    At least they have some degree of funding, however pitiful, for the Sabre engine, unlike the 1980's....

    Mind you, why does Lapcat, look like a 21st Century version of the Russian Mya-52 "Bounder" bomber, from the 1950's...?

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like