Chinese scientists have figured out how to nearly double the range of hypersonic missiles, according to a recently published paper. The study could increase fears that China’s growing hypersonic missile program may be used to defeat U.S. defenses.
The new missile tech upgrade is based on the fact that hypersonics often use air-breathing technology. To increase fuel efficiency, when the missile reaches hypersonic speed, the air is slowed to below the speed of sound before it enters the engine’s combustion chamber.
The Chinese researchers managed to build a prototype engine with a groundbreaking fuel efficiency of 79 percent. The team accomplished this feat by using the subsonic-combustion mode during a ground test that simulated a flight at an altitude of 15.5 miles at Mach 6, according to researchers from the National University of Defence Technology in Changsha, Hunan. The paper was first reported by the South China Morning Post.