A research team in China has built and tested a prototype of a hypersonic aircraft. This is reported the South China Morning Post.

The initial design of the TSV X-plane was proposed by Min Han Tang, a former chief engineer of NASA’s hypersonic program in the late 1990s with the Boeing Manta X-47C project. However, before engineers could verify the design’s viability, the US government abandoned the project due to its high cost as well as technical difficulties.

Unlike most under-hull-powered hypersonic aircraft concepts, the TSV X-plane design features two separate engines on each side. At lower revs, they operate like conventional turbojet engines. The configuration with no moving parts allows the aircraft to quickly switch to high-speed mode. As a result, the plane can accelerate to a speed of five times the speed of sound. This means that the TSV X-plane can fly around the planet in a few hours.

Professor Tang Huijun and his colleagues at Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics in Jiangsu, China, have already constructed a prototype based on Tang’s original specifications. It helped that the blueprints for the Boeing Manta X-47C program were declassified in 2011. Huizun and his team tested the prototype in a wind tunnel. The experiment showed the viability of the model.