Speed of Sound: U.S. Air Force and Australia Conduct Hypersonic Missile Test

The Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation Program launches an experimental hypersonic scramjet vehicle from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii during a research flight conducted in 2012. Air Force photo

By Alex Snyder
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

An experimental rocket, the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation Program 4, blasted off at over a mile-per-second through the Australian skies earlier this month as part of a $54 million collaboration between the Air Force Research Laboratory, Australia’s Department of Defense, Queensland University and several private companies.


      Video courtesy of University of Queensland

This was just the latest in a series of tests of the HiFIRE 4, which was also tested in Hawaii and Norway in 2012. While the designed speed of the hypersonic missile is faster than that of sound, its advantage lies in its enhanced maneuverability and smooth flight path, which is much harder to track than that of traditional missiles.

In a statement released July 10, Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne congratulated project team members for the successful launch that “takes us one step closer to the realization of hypersonic flight.”

The HiFIRE project, which initially included NASA involvement, began more than eight years ago.


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