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Aircraft shoots for 3,600 mph for 300 seconds

Published August 14, 2012 11:43 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. • The Air Force plans a key test of an experimental aircraft designed to fly at six times the speed of sound, or about 3,600 mph.

The Los Angeles Times reports the unmanned X-51 WaveRider is expected to reach Mach 6 Tuesday when it's dropped by a B-52 bomber and takes flight off the Southern California coast near Point Mugu.

Engineers hope it sustains its top speed for 300 seconds, twice as long as it's gone before.

Last year in its most recent test, the X-51 fell for about four seconds before its booster rocket ignited, but the aircraft failed to separate from the rocket and plunged into the ocean.

Designed by Boeing Co., the aircraft is intended to allow the Pentagon to deliver strikes around the globe within minutes.