X-51A Hypersonic Program: A Long Way to Go, a Short Time to Get There

X-51A programme admits facing long odds
Flight International

Boeing X-51A programme officials acknowledge that they face long odds for completing a successful flight-test programme for the hypersonic vehicle with only four experiments funded.

Joseph Vogel, Boeing programme manager for X-51A, says he would prefer to have 10 flight tests, but is optimistic that the programme can be successful with funding for only four. Another two flight tests could be added if the programme can find a new source for funding, he adds.

Charlie Brink, X-51A programme manager for the US Air Force Research Laboratory, compares the hypersonic vehicle to cruise missile technology. But flight-test programmes for cruises missiles are notoriously problematic. Half of the first 20 flight tests in previous cruise missile programmes have failed.

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