Development and test flights
After the X -43A reached off the coast of California on March 27, 2004 during a test flight almost seven times the speed of sound ( supersonic speed ) was already achieved on 16 November 2004 with the designed for speeds up to Mach 10 aircraft a record speed of Mach 9.6 be. The aircraft is driven by a ramjet engine with a supersonic combustion.
The approximately 3.6 -meter-long device was deposed by a converted Boeing B -52 at an altitude of 12,200 feet, hitched to a modified Pegasus rocket. This brought the 1270 kg heavy aircraft to an altitude of 95,000 feet ( 30,000 meters). During the following, only around eleven -second, independent flight in March 2004, the prototype arrived at a speed of about 7700 km / h (approx. Mach 7.1 ) - a new record for aircraft with air-breathing engines. Then, the machine crashed checked into the sea.
The third and final test flight on 16 November 2004 over the Pacific, the supersonic aircraft Mach 9.6 is reached ( over 10,000 km / h) and held the new record speed by about ten seconds, then it led a few minutes of pre- flight maneuvers to then planned to plunge into the Pacific. Again, a B- 52 bomber had first brought the aircraft to 12,000 feet altitude, where it was notched along with a Pegasus rocket, which carried the test aircraft at 30,000 meters altitude. There, the X -43A lit her engine.
X 43A is driven by a ramjet engine, which operates in the supersonic range. Unlike conventional jet engines a ramjet has no rotating parts. The incoming air is compressed by non turbo compressors, but by the impact on the moving plane in combination with the narrowing inflow. In the center of the engine, fuel is injected and ignited, which heats the air flowing past abruptly, so that it expands, is discharged through the airspeed induced dynamic pressure from the front to the back and mainly produces thrust. Characterized in that the combustion takes place at supersonic speed, increase the technical requirements.
After the X -43 project, the U.S. Air Force investigated again hypersonic aircraft with the X -51. First flight was on 26 May 2010.