Back in February, news of a hypersonic plane design coming from China broke. The surreal airplane is on paper capable of reaching speeds of 3,700 mph (6,000 km/h), or nearly six times the speed of sound.
The hypersonic, also known as a supersonic combustion ramjet, or scramjet, would cut the normal travel time between Beijing and New York from 13 and a half hours to under two hours.
The airplane has two sets of wings, one pointing forward and the other backward. The entire system is said to have held well during wind tunnel tests of the scaled-down model.
But drawing up a scaled-down plane with no moving parts was an easy task for Chinese engineers. What the hypersonic aircraft lacks is the physical engine that would power it.
Solving that problem has come to the attention of Chinese authorities, which now seem willing to invest heavily in the development of hypersonic power units.
According to South China Morning Post, China is currently drawing up plans to build a manufacturing facility for the mass production of the said engines. The facility is to be built in Hefei, eastern China, by the Institute of Mechanics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing (IMECH).
IMECH describes itself as a comprehensive and multidisciplinary national mechanics research center. Unofficially, it is probably China’s biggest developer of hypersonic weapons.
No date for the completion of the facility was announced, nor is it clear what type of hypersonic engines will be made there. According to the source, the unit will likely be a rocket-based combined cycle system similar to the one currently being tested by IMECH.