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DARPA wants full test of 'hypersonic X-plane' in four years

Photo: DARPA

An artist's rendition of the Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

When they're not testing gigapixel-class cameras or putting robots on treadmills, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is hard at work on a hypersonic glider with the ablity to travel over 13,000 miles per hour and carry out a military strike anywhere in the world in less than 60 minutes. 

DARPA, the DoD's research arm with the motto "Creating & Preventing Strategic Surprise," announced Friday that it will be seeking proposals next month to help solve tech hurdles in the hypersonic X-plane. The new phase of the program reflects the agency's goal of testing a full-scale hypersonic X-plane in four years. 

On August 14, researchers will host a so-called Proposers' Day, and address specifics about which technical areas are seeking proposals.

Experimental versions of the rocket-launched unmanned glider have already been tested. The craft, designed to fly at speeds 20 times the speed of sound (Mach 20), requires extraordinary controls and has to endure blast-furnace heat.