We have the opportunity to usher in a new area of flight. Within four years we'll be able to travel anywhere on earth in an under an hour. At least that's the hope of the US military as it spearheads technological development and flight tests X-planes.
The project, titled Integrated Hypersonics, is being carried out by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which has developed stealth aircraft for the US government for over 30 years.
DARPA has conducted two test flights of prototype hypersonic aircraft in the past two years. In August last year, the Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2) reached Mach 20, but only remained airborne for nine minutes. Moving forward, the program will conduct further ground tests and test flights of prototype vehicles, as well as modelling and simulation that will culminate in a full-scale flight of the X-plane in 2016.
DARPA will host an event on August 14 in Arlington, Virginia, to detail the areas for which technical and research proposals are being sought.