Lockheed Martin says it’s developing a Mach 6 aircraft that would be faster than any other fighter jet.
Called the Hypersonic Test Vehicle 3X, or HTV-3X, the new plane could reach speeds of more than six times the typical cruising speed of the Boeing 747-8, which has been chosen as the next presidential aircraft. It will also far outpace anything flown by America’s adversaries.
Lockheed Martin Chief Executive Officer Marillyn Hewson revealed for the first time that significant progress has been made regarding the new fighter jet.
"We accomplished several breakthroughs on HTV-3X. And we’re now producing a controllable, low-drag, aerodynamic configuration capable of stable operation from take-off, to sub-sonic, trans-sonic, super-sonic, and hypersonic to Mach 6, " she said in a statement.
"And most importantly, we’re proving a hypersonic aircraft can be produced at an affordable price. We estimate it will cost less than $1 billion dollars to develop, build, and fly a demonstrator aircraft the size of an F-22," she added.
Just how fast?
The HTV-3X would be three times faster than the F-22 Raptor fighter jets, flying at 4,600 miles per hour – meaning it could travel the distance of the Earth’s circumference in about five and half hours or the time it takes a 747 to travel from New York to Los Angeles.
Delivering Nuclear Warheads in Under an Hour
At the same time, Lockheed’s legendary Skunk Works is working on other secret hypersonic aircraft including the Falcon HTV-2. The unmanned aircraft is launched on a rocket and could achieve Mach 20 speeds – that’s 13,000 miles per hour. At those speeds, it could leave New York City and arrive in Los Angeles in less than 12 minutes.
Developing a hypersonic aircraft would support the Department of Defense’s aim to achieve Conventional Prompt Global Strike - conducting airstrikes against any target, anywhere in the world within one hour.
Ballet dancer turned defense specialist Allison Barrie has traveled around the world covering the military, terrorism, weapons advancements and life on the front line. You can reach her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @Allison_Barrie.