President Vladimir Putin shocked the Western world into disbelief on March 1st, 2018, when he announced the Russian Federation’s successful development of new, highly advanced hypersonic weapons. That development apparently continues apace, as a new image of what may be Russia’s 6th generation fighter plane was revealed to the world. This plane is also hypersonic.
Sputnik News and London’s Express reported that a group called The Defence Blog, which watches military news from Russia and everywhere else noticed an image of a heretofore unknown aircraft in a Zvezda TV broadcast:
— Defence blog (@Defence_blog) November 18, 2018
The circled plane, which from a different angle appears to have an extremely unusual tail section, got the attention of the Defence Blog wonks. The video in which this plane shows up is here below, and the scene in question begins at 20:02. We have marked about ten seconds ahead of that spot for you here in this video, but this program is most impressive and deserves a full viewing:
Many followers of the Defence Blog waxed highly critical of the allegation that this was actually a hypersonic aircraft, with various jibes about how it resembles a model of a fantasy fighter jet, the “MiG-37B” that was sold as a kit many years ago. Someone else noted that the wing design could not possibly be that which is needed for a hypersonic aircraft.
But this kind of statement is probably highly speculative. At this time, the only two nations that have significant development in hypersonic vehicles are Russia and the United States. But Russia is the only power that has this technology in active production, and it remains to be seen what they have discovered that perhaps the West does not yet know about this field of aeronautics.
We know, for example, that the characteristics of airflow over a wing change as the wing becomes transonic, that is, as it passes through Mach 1. We further understand that the airflow changes again at Mach 5. Speeds of Mach 5 and above are considered hypersonic. Although we have certainly sent rockets, the Space Shuttle and rocket planes like the X-15 through the hypersonic “barrier”, the US has not in public knowledge created a viable propulsion system and airfoil design for sustained flight at hypersonic speeds.
Russia, by all accounts, has done so with two known weapons, the Avangard and the Kinzhal, capable of Mach 20 and Mach 10 sustained flight, respectively. Russia has also developed nuclear powered flight, which means they have developed this technology into very tiny reactors. While there has not yet been a “grand reveal” of these weapons, we see them from time to time in test videos.
The West is still suffering from a case of disbelief over this technology, but in recent months the American military has acknowledged the reality of these developments.
Sputnik did acknowledge the following:
Defence Blog admitted that the “leak” could just be an intentional joke or part of a disinformation campaign by the Russian military. The Russian Defence Ministry hasn’t commented on the media outlet’s findings.
The head of the directorate of military aircraft programs at the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), Vladimir Mikhailov, announced in 2016 that the sixth generation supersonic Russian jet would arrive by 2025. It is expected to reach a speed of Mach 5-6, although no precise information regarding its engine has been reported so far.