Pentagon explains why hypersonic, Mach 20 drone failed

Falcon HTV-2 Hypersonic Plane Deploys

WASHINGTON –  The Pentagon has finally released a report about what went wrong when its Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (HTV-2) failed just minutes into a test flight last year and barreled into the Pacific Ocean.

The unmanned, arrowhead-shaped aircraft, which one day could allow the US to strike anywhere across the globe in less than 60 minutes, was strapped to a rocket and launched from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base last August.

The drone coasted at speeds of 13,000mph (21,000kmph) — 20 times the speed of sound — through the Earth’s atmosphere for less than three minutes before ultimately failing and switching into abort-mode just nine minutes into the flight. It splashed down short of its intended target near the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific.

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) said an analysis of the crash showed that high speeds peeled off larger-than-expected portions of the vehicle’s skin.

Officials anticipated some of the outer shell would gradually wear away, but rapidly-forming gaps on the skin created strong shock waves around the HTV-2 and caused it to roll abruptly, the report said.

Fox News has the full article

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