A team of researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences has tested a hypersonic aircraft in a wind tunnel at speeds ranging from Mach 5 to Mach 7 . The so-called I Plane would only need a “couple of hours” to travel from Beijing to New York. A commercial flight that usually takes at least 14 hours.
As reported by the South China Morning Post , the I Plane’s cargo was about 25% of that of a Boeing 737. Compared with the ability of the Boeing to transport up to 20 tons or 200 passengers, an I Plane of the same size could transport 5 tons or 50 passengers.
Apparently, and as confirmed by a researcher familiar with the project (who remained anonymous), the plane could also be used to transport bombs, explaining that it could be ” something like a heavy hypersonic bomber “.
By the way, China also recently developed hypersonic missiles capable of traveling at speeds over 11,000 km / h. So everything points to the development of I Plane reflects that desire of China to be a leader in the career of hypersonic weapons.
What does the United States think of this? US Captain Harry Harris had already spoken in Congress in February about China, warning that the country was investigating hypersonic technology. Of course, the United States is in the same phase in the search for its own hypersonic projects.
In fact, NASA researchers discovered last year that boron nitride nanotubes could be a material that makes hypersonic air travel more feasible, and could even allow NASA aircraft to cross the country in less than one hour.
In addition, the US Navy is testing hypersonic weapons that could hit anywhere on Earth in one hour, and Lockheed Martin hinted in January that the SR-72 , the successor to the SR-71 Blackbird , is already in development, and that this hypersonic aircraft could be flying by 2030. It seems, therefore, that it is only a matter of time before hypersonic flights and their commercialization become a reality. [ Popular Science ]