The Air Force’s Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 – designed to attack global targets at Mach 20 – has disappeared nine minutes into its first test flight, just after separating from its booster. Contact was lost, and it hasn’t been found yet.
The Falcon was supposed to splash down in the Pacific Ocean after a 30-minute, 4100-nautical-mile test flight. Not to be confused with the unmanned X-37B space shuttle – which launched on April 22 – the Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 blasted off last week from the Vandenberg Air Force Base on a Minotaur IV rocket.
Instead of completing its flight, however, the Air Force lost all contact with the aircraft. According to DARPA’s Johanna Spangenberg Jones:
Preliminary review of data indicates the HTV-2 achieved controlled flight within the atmosphere at over Mach 20. Then contact with HTV-2 was lost.
The hypersonic glider is built by Lockheed Martin under a DARPA program. It’s designed to strike against any target in the planet, using conventional weapons, in a matter of minutes. Unlike ICBMs loaded with conventional heads, the plane can’t be mistaken for a nuclear missile, so it won’t make other nuclear powers hit the red button. Maybe. [Physorg]