Experimental Aircraft to Go From Zero to 13,000 in Hypersonic Test Launch. Strike anywhere in less than 1 hour.

An unmanned aircraft that can travel at the breakneck speed of 20 times the speed of sound will take off Wednesday from an Air Force base in California for a test flight.

The Falcon HTV-2 is an arrow-shaped aircraft that launches on a rocket, separates and then glides at hypersonic speeds of 13,000 mph through the Earth’s atmosphere. (To put it in perspective, it would take less than 12 minutes to fly from New York to Los Angeles.)

In April 2010, the Falcon flew for nine minutes, including 130 seconds of Mach 22 to Mach 17 flight, according to DARPA, the military’s research arm

The flight overview looks something like a rocket launch. The aircraft takes off in a rocket and eventually breaks free. It re-enters the Earth’s upper atmosphere and eventually evens out, like jet in flight. Eventually, the aircraft takes a nose dive into the sea near Kwajalein Atoll. In all, the Falcon HTV-2 would have flown 4,000 miles from its original take off at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The goal of the project is to eventually enable the U.S. military to strike anywhere in the world in less than an hour.

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