Hypersonic jet breaks apart

The test flight of a hypersonic jet that could travel more than five times the speed of sound has ended in failure after it broke apart mid-flight due to a "faulty control fin."

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Hypersonic jet breaks apart mid-flight

An X-51A WaveRider hypersonic flight test vehicle.
An X-51A WaveRider hypersonic flight test vehicle. Credit: US Air Force

A US military test flight of the experimental hypersonic WaveRider, which could travel more than five times the speed of sound, came to an end prematurely when the aircraft broke apart in the air over the Pacific Ocean after its cruiser control fin failed, the US Air Force said.

The fin problem was spotted 16 seconds after a rocket booster on the unmanned X-51A aircraft was ignited to increase its speed, the Air Force said.

Around 15 seconds later, when the X-51A separated from the rocket booster it lost control due to a "faulty control fin," the Air Force's statement said.

The aircraft fell apart straightaway and dropped into the Pacific Ocean near Point Mugu northwest of Los Angeles, said Daryl Mayer, a spokesman for the 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

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Hypersonic jet tested by US military

The US military conducted an unmanned test flight of its hypersonic aircraft, an official confirmed.

A B-52 bomber launched the remotely monitored, nearly wingless experimental aircraft, officially known as the X-51A, between 5pm and 6pm GMT, John Haire, a spokesman for the 412th test wing at Edwards Air Force Base in California said.

The hypersonic aircraft was launched off the coast of California near Naval Air Station Point Mugu, which is northwest of Los Angeles, and flew north over the Pacific through a range that is designed for test flights, Haire said.

Hypersonic jet WaveRider set for test flight

An X-51A WaveRider hypersonic flight test vehicle
An X-51A WaveRider hypersonic flight test vehicle Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Chad Bellay

A hypersonic jet that could travel from London to New York in one hour, will be tested by the US military today above the Pacific Ocean.

The X-51A WaveRider can reach speeds of 4,500mph - more than five times the speed of sound.

An X-51A Waverider successfully launched from a B-52 Stratofortress
An X-51A Waverider successfully launched from a B-52 Stratofortress, like the one shown here, on May 26, 2010. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Cassidy

In May 2010, an X-51A Waverider successfully launched from a B-52 Stratofortress.

It was the longest supersonic combustion ramjet-powered hypersonic flight to date and accelerated to Mach 5.

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Hypersonic jet set to be tested by US military

A hypersonic jet that could travel from London to New York in one hour, will be tested by the US military today.

The X-51A WaveRider can reach speeds of 4,500mph - more than five times the speed of sound.

The £89 million craft will be flown to 50,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean, attached to the wing of a B-52 bomber, where it will be dropped and the engines fired - the test will last 300 seconds.