There's a new arms race brewing, and this one is destined to be very, very fast. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin is calling for the development of a hypersonic long-range bomber to ensure Russia is not "falling behind the Americans." He doesn't want some subsonic or even supersonic analog to the American B-2, he says. Russia's next bomber - slated for delivery by decade's end - will move faster than Mach 5.
Rogozin's latest comments follow on the heels of America's latest test of the X-51 Waverider, a hypersonic experimental scramjet that the deputy PM holds up as an example of what the Russian aerospace and defense sectors should be aspiring to (along with DARPA's HTV Falcon test vehicle and America's other hypersonic development programs).But there's one key point Rogozin seems to be missing here: the Waverider crashed into the ocean during its most recent test after a control fin broke. Darpa's Falcon literally flew out of its own heat-protective skin during its last trial. Hypersonic flight is far from a stable reality on this side of the old Iron Curtain. And if Russia is planning on integrating hypersonic technology into the PAK-DA program (that's the acronym for Russia's future long-range bomber initiative), it should've started working on the technology piece of this long before now.