Posted on 24th Apr 2012 @ 9:40 AM
Technology has been booming over the last decade. While we are always amazed by the newest phone or laptop computer that hits the market, it should be known that we are not the only ones developing and applying technology for practical means. It goes without say that technology is also being used for more militant purposes. The Army and Navy are always looking for new ways to increase our technological combat skill.
But as with all advancements, these tests take time and effort. Now, we look into the world of aeronautics. DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency has been trying to develop a new type of plane that will be set to travel at 20 times the speed of sound, or Mach 20. This plane is very unusual, as it is designed to look like an arrowhead rather than the rounded shape we are all used to. This plane would be the latest in Unmanned Ariel Vehicles, or UAVs, and is sure to be one of the most impressive pieces of aeronautic equipment for defense.
However, upon the initial testing of the new design, the Hypersonic Technology Vehicle suddenly lost contact and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. The testing was performed in March of last year, and DARPA has begun to release their theory on why the first flight test was unsuccessful. According to their latest theory, the scientists at DARPA believe that the test was unsuccessful because the plane was simply traveling too fast. They believe that once the plane achieved a speed of Mach 20, the skin of the plan could not handle the strain and therefore began to peel off. After enough skin has peeled off, the plane crashed.
DARPA spent a full eight months investigating the incident, trying to establish the most likely reason for the plane’s sudden crash. Upon conclusion of their study, they released a public statement about their discoveries, saying: “Larger than anticipated portions of the vehicle’s skin peeled from the aero-structure.”
The agency said that it was not initially surprised by the problem of skin peeling. The plane can fly at incredible speeds; it can make the trip from New York to Los Angeles in only 12 minutes. The agency said it expected the HTV-2 to experience “impulsive shock waves” at such speeds, but shocks it experienced last August were “more than 100 times what the vehicle was designed to withstand.”
The testing of the plane was made public very quickly. However, many details about it still remain highly classified. For example, DARPA has not made any kind of comment regarding the plane’s interior design, outer design, or even the purpose for its creation. One thing about it that can be said for sure is that once the plane has been perfected, it will surely be the fastest aeronautic vehicle the world has ever seen.
Two months after DARPA’s test, the Army tested its own hypersonic aircraft — this one a long-range weapon system called the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW) designed to strike any target in the world in just a couple hours.