There's a new arms race brewing, and this one is destined to be very, very fast. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin is calling for the development of a hypersonic long-range bomber to ensure Russia is not "falling behind the Americans." He doesn't want some subsonic or even supersonic analog to the American B-2, he says. Russia's next bomber--slated for delivery by decade's end--will move faster than Mach 5.
Rogozin's latest comments follow on the heels of America's latest test of the X-51 Waverider, a hypersonic experimental scramjet that the deputy PM holds up as an example of what the Russian aerospace and defense sectors should be aspiring to (along with DARPA's HTV Falcon test vehicle and America's other hypersonic development programs).
But there's one key point Rogozin seems to be missing here: the Waverider crashed into the ocean during its most recent test after a control fin broke. Darpa's Falcon literally flew out of its own heat-protective skin during its last trial. Hypersonic flight is far from a stable reality on this side of the old Iron Curtain. And if Russia is planning on integrating hypersonic technology into the PAK-DA program (that's the acronym for Russia's future long-range bomber initiative), it should've started working on the technology piece of this long before now.
It should've started working on the funding piece as well. Hypersonic scramjets and the like are expensive to build and then--if DARPA and the Air Force are any indication--they are generally crashed. That's how aerospace engineers learn. It's also really, really expensive. Aerospace analysts familiar with both the technology and budget situations in Russia reportedly say the PAK-DA will be at best supersonic, and probably subsonic. If Rogozin's aspirations are relevant to anything it might be a hypersonic missile, and even that is beyond the 2020 horizon.
Still, that this conversation is taking place at all at this level demonstrates the amount of strategic interest in cracking the hypersonic frontier, something the U.S. Pentagon has invested heavily in for years now. Payload delivery systems (we won't call them missiles, but they're missiles) moving at speeds upward of Mach 5--the generally agreed-upon definition of "hypersonic"--would be mighty difficult to defend against with conventional countermeasures. Perhaps we're all lucky that stable hypersonic flight is going to take quite a few more years to figure out.
I'm still pumped about this. Ballistic missiles led to space launches, I feel like these scram jet engines and the like will do the same. We might get our space plane yet...
Who said the cold war was over?
The Russians seem to rattle their swords a lot. They've started doing it again since they crawled out of their years of problems. Go to Ria Novosti Defense on the web, and you'll see what I mean. ( it's more or less their official media outlet)
Not saying that they aren't trying to get in this arena, just that they talk about a lot of programs.
If society has matured to a higher level in life, you think we choose better goals that prepare for more war!
I never am the guy working in the nuclear missile silo. I just never push the button. Even if there is a guard over me with a gun, prepared to shoot me to push the button; I rather be shot.
I wish we could just share breakfast and get along with a nice cup of coffee!;)
You are a man of little education, little heart and little imagination, if you cannot choose positive and healthy goals for society!
The same is true, any leaders in the world, who prepare for war. I am sick of it. We as a society are suppose to be better than this!
They have the TU 160, that is a most impressive aircraft. There is not really anything in operation to match it.
Stupid idea; this is pure politics.
Hey, Mr.Rogozin, Do you wanna race to Mars? Eh? Eh?
Mach V, very doable and not even that expensive with a jato ram jet bomber.
You wanna play with serious speed, Air Force? Then perform my simple international fix for all of humanities' problems and hold yourselves accountable. Get back to the basics of what we know works for a minute. 3.1 mach for Blackbird, and with the A-10 D scramjet drone that you got twenty of seconds out of? Did it hit mach 4? So we mount a payload and command package between two of those wonderful jet engines. Make better skin. Fly it in say, 6 months, at the fine budget price of a pair of those engines you got parked around already and a newer skin based in the previous concept of expanding titanium, if it was working before and seemed like it has anything left as an idea. With a newer, even more air friendly design than that designed for the human in the cockpit of the plane. No landing gear or pilot requirements mean really mean speed, General.
Scramjet tech fails with both ignition sustain and compression? Could we be using the wrong ignition principle? Electromagnet charged plasma, into a polarized compressor, maybe? Turning the plasma instantly back through gas to charged liquid, along with just maybe avoiding icing with raw engine surface temp and supplemental electric heat?
What would a 4 or 6 engined Blackbird get us? What is maximum wing load and torsion resistance that we can get with modern savvy? Enough, just maybe, to handle 4!, of those bad boys per wing? Lockheed, do the math once in honor of the money you're still making off that bad bird we paid you for, please. We need a new hotrod, but based at about 100% off for once, quasi44, an American and longtime PopSci subscriber, would like you to turn thought to increasing the scale of the SR and A series, Good Sirs and Ma'ams. Let's entertain, for one semi-mathematically backed rendering after all these years, what we know works in American Standard fashion instead of just allowing the longtime Earth drag king be a piece of history.
Your suggestion is best on this page, besides just pursuing world peace, dealing with world food or clean water shortages, population growth, world economic problems, pollution and other positive humanity solutions to pursue.
"But hell Mr. Dmitry Rogozin lets just make more war weapons; you such a freaking moron!"
@ Robot; While seeing a world without them would be a great thing, those seeking power will always grab a weapon. And victims will always want one too.
I feel like FireFox was written by some supernatural or ingenius person who was able to foretell russia wanting a mach 5 aircraft to "get ahead of the game"
Russia has to find something special to spend all that money from their super diamond mine.