Russia, China and the U.S. are locked in a hypersonic jet race. China has successfully tested its Wu-14 hypersonic glide vehicle that can travel at 7,000 miles per hour. Now Russia’s Gromov Flight Research Institute (LII) has said that its latest GLL-AP-02 hypersonic jet vehicle will fly in “three to four years.”
Project affected by lack of funding, technical issues
Moscow tested its nuclear-capable hypersonic glide vehicle Yu-71 in February, which was a failure. Yu-71 is being developed under the top secret Project 4022, according to Jane’s Intelligence. It will be capable of piercing the U.S. missile defense systems. Jane’s Intelligence estimates that Russia may deploy up to 24 Yu-71 hypersonic vehicles by 2025.
Gromov Flight Research Institute officials told FlightGlobal at the MAKS air show in Moscow that work on the hypersonic GLL-AP-02 was progressing well. Of course, technical issues and funding constraints due to the country’s deteriorating economy have slowed the progress. But they were expecting to complete it by 2019. Lack of funding is just one of the several difficulties, given the ambitious nature of the project.
Russia’s answer to Boeing X-51
GLL-AP-02 is Russia’s answer to China’s Wu-14 and the United States’ Boeing X-51. The Russian company said that Western sanctions did not have any impact on the project. They plan to press ahead to build on the hypersonic flight data collected in previous experiments. The project has both civilian and military applications, said Gromov Flight Research Institute.
That’s not the only Russian project the Western countries should be scared of. Russia is set to start inducting the fifth-generation Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA into its Air Force by late 2016 or 2017. Last week, the Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG said it was developing yet another fifth generation fight jet that will be based on Mikoyan Project 1.44. It will boast of advanced avionics, supercruise, super-maneuverability, and stealth technology. However, this project may take years before it enters the active service.