The ability to fly at more than five times the speed of sound holds the promise of getting to the antipodes in less time than it takes to drive across town. However, it also makes possible deadly weapons that can penetrate any defenses currently available while delivering the destructive force of a tactical nuclear weapon. So what is hypersonic flight and is its development an opportunity or a threat?
If you've been following defense or aerospace news in recent years, you may have noticed that there's been significant buzz about hypersonics. The USA, China, Russia, Germany, Britain, India, Australia, and even Indonesia have been conducting research into various aspects and problems of flying at Mach 5 (3,800 mph, 6,125 km/h) and above. Much of this is basic research, but mixed into news feeds are reports of growing concern about hypersonic developments by America, Russia, and China for military purposes.