China is starting to ramp up its scramjet propulsion workan initiative that will benefit high-speed missile programs while also helping the country to develop advanced aerospace materials, greater computational capabilities and a cadre of young engineers who have matured as a result of cutting-edge engine and aerodynamic challenges.
Building on its ramjet experience, China is embracing the much more difficult task of developing Mach 5 air vehicle concepts in which propulsion and aerodynamics are highly coupled.
As part of this effort, an integrated scramjet model is about to begin testing at up to Mach 5.6 in a new wind tunnel in Beijing.
In addition to the technology and engineering experience to be gained, the mid-term military payoff is likely to be more advanced high-speed tactical and medium-range Chinese missiles, especially for antiship warfare that could threaten U.S. aircraft carriers in the Pacific or operating in support of Taiwan...
...And over the next several decades, the scramjet work could eventually provide China with a tactical hypersonic global-strike capability beyond the country's strategic ballistic missile force. The U.S. has similar goals for its own growing scramjet program.