US tests hypersonic rockets to boost military vehicles

Image copyright AP Image caption The Air Force Range in Nevada tests unmanned US government space vehicles

The US Air Force has carried out a series of launches of three rocket vehicles which could help propel military vehicles to suborbital space and then higher.

A joint press conference has been taking place in Nevada, near where these tests were carried out.

The planes lifted off from and landed at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The rockets are part of a new defence technology program codenamed: Hypersonic Weapons Systems (HWS).

This programme intends to test hypersonic cruise missiles that fly at speeds faster than Mach 10 (or 10,000mph).

Image copyright Steve Cheney Image caption The suborbital experiment marks the first step in a program aimed at removing the need for costly satellites

According to the Air Force, these launch vehicle tests could have up to three times the thrust of the world’s fastest supersonic plane, the Concorde.

Flight testing will continue on a regular basis until the test of the rocket power-pack prototypes, which is expected in 2021.

One of the first companies selected for the programme is the Northrop Grumman Corporation.

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