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Artists concept of the X-51A (Image: US Air Force)

Wright Patterson AFB has confirmed in an official press release that Tuesday’s test of the Waverider X-51A unmanned hypersonic missile has failed. Launched from a B-52 bomber over Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range at 11:36 AM PST, the separation from the bomber and ignition of the X-51A’s rocket booster went as planned. However, 16 seconds into the flight a fault occurred in one of the missile’s control fins before the scramjet could start and the X-51A was today officially reported as "lost." At present, there are no further official details, but the New York Daily News reports that the missile crashed into the Pacific Ocean while NBC News states that the X-51A broke up in flight and fell into the ocean "in pieces."  Read More

The X-47B launches rom Pax River for a 35-minute flight over the Chesapeake Bay on July 29...

Following the completion of airworthiness flight tests at Edwards Air Force Base in California on May 15, the second Northrop Grumman-built X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator was transported cross-country to Naval Air Station Patuxent (Pax) River in Maryland where it has just conducted the first flight at its new home.  Read More

The second Northrop Grumman-built X-47B unmanned aircraft lifts off for one of its final f...

The Northrop Grumman-built X-47B has passed the latest checkpoint on its flight path towards becoming the first carrier-based, tailless, fighter-sized, unmanned aircraft in the U.S. Navy’s arsenal with the successful conclusion of the first major phase of flight testing at Edwards Air Force Base (EAFB) in California.  Read More

Computer image of the X-56A unmanned modular aircraft that NASA will use to test enabling ...

NASA has announced it will use a modular, unmanned flight research vehicle being built by Lockheed Martin for the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to test enabling technologies for new kinds of lightweight, energy-efficient, flexible aircraft. The small aircraft, dubbed the X-56A, will be used to explore ways to suppress vibrations and alleviate the load on flexible aircraft from wind gusts and atmospheric turbulence.  Read More

X-37B on runway at Vandenberg AFB (Image: USAF)

When the Space Shuttle Atlantis touched down for the final time on July 21, 2011, it looked as if the notion of a manned spacecraft capable of going into orbit and then landing like a conventional airplane had been abandoned. The US government appears to be in favor of returning to Apollo-style space capsules with anything like the Shuttles being relegated to the private sector. But at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' (AIAA) recent Space 2011 conference, Arthur Grantz, chief engineer of Space and Intelligence Systems' Experimental Systems Group at Boeing, delivered a paper indicating that the U.S. Air Force and Boeing are already on the way toward developing a manned Shuttle replacement based on the X-37B robot space plane.  Read More

Upgrades are planned which will keep the venerable B-52 in service until the 2040s (Photo:...

Mention the "B-52" to most people and they'll think of either an '80s pop group, a bad hair style, or an ancient bomber that's a relic of the Cold War. The name conjures up a vintage warplane featured in grainy footage from the Cuban Missile Crisis, but what may surprise people is to learn that in the second decade of the 21st century, the B-52 fleet still plays a key role in America's nuclear deterrence and conventional warfare strategy. Now the US Defense Department is upgrading the venerable USAF B-52 heavy bomber to allow the sixty-year old aircraft to continue in active front-line service until the 2040s.  Read More

Final checks to the X-51A Waverider scramjet, which is affixed to an Edwards B-52H Stratof...

The second hypersonic test flight of Boeing's X-51A Waverider has ended prematurely with the craft failing to transition to full power. The X-51A Waverider broke the record for the longest ever supersonic combustion scramjet-powered flight on its first autonomous flight in May 2010, flying under scramjet power for just under three and a half minutes at a top speed of Mach 5. For the second hypersonic flight test, the craft was expected to accelerate to about Mach 6, but only managed to accelerate to Mach 5 under solid rocket booster propulsion before the flight had to be terminated.  Read More

The F-35 Lightning II Full Mission Simulator includes a high-fidelity 360-degree visual di...

Eglin Air Force Base has just taken delivery of a piece of hardware that would surely be the ultimate toy for flight sim gaming fans. The F-35 Lightning II Full Mission Simulator (FMS) system includes a high-fidelity 360-degree visual display system and a reconfigurable cockpit that can simulate all three variants of the F-35 Lightning II for U.S. and international partner services – the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) F-35A, the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B, and the F-35C carrier variant.  Read More

An F-22 Raptor powered by biofuel takes off March 18, 2011, at Edwards Air Force Base, Cal...

The U.S. Air Force’s goal of acquiring 50 percent of its domestic aviation fuel via alternative fuel blends derived from domestic sources by 2016 got a boost on Friday March 18, when an F-22 Raptor was successfully flown at speeds of up to Mach 1.5 on a 50/50 fuel blend of conventional petroleum-based JP-8 (Jet Propellant 8) and biofuel derived from an inedible plant called camelina. The flight capped off a series of ground and flight tests carried out earlier in the week for the Raptor using the biofuel blend to evaluate its suitability in the F-22 weapons system.  Read More

A U-2 high-altitude, all-weather surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft departs from Osa...

As Japan, and indeed the world, struggles to comprehend the devastation resulting from the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that struck on March 11, countries around the world have rushed to offer support in a number of ways. Amongst the aid flowing from the U.S. is a U-2 high-altitude, all-weather surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft that will be used to capture high-resolution, broad area synoptic imagery to help the Japanese identify the location and extent of damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami.  Read More

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