US hypersonic aircraft crashes early in test flight

August 15, 2012 23:02

LOS ANGELES - An unmanned experimental hypersonic military aircraft called the Waverider broke apart over the Pacific Ocean seconds into a test flight due to a faulty control fin, the US Air Force said on Wednesday.

The problem with the fin was identified 16 seconds after a rocket booster on the X-51A aircraft was ignited to increase its speed in a test flight on Tuesday morning, the Air Force said in a statement.

Fifteen seconds later, when the X-51A separated from the rocket booster, it lost control due to a "faulty control fin," the statement said. The 31 seconds of flight fell far short of the military's goal for the X-51A to fly for five minutes.

The aircraft broke apart immediately and fell into the Pacific Ocean near Point Mugu northwest of Los Angeles, said Daryl Mayer, a spokesman for the 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

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