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China to build ‘world’s fastest’ wind tunnel

BEIJING: China has announced it is building the world’s fastest wind tunnel to develop a new generation of super-fast airplanes, but it could also be used for hypersonic missile technology.

Wind tunnels test how air will pass over a solid object, helping designers improve aerodynamics or reduce stress points for objects as they reach high speeds.

State-run Xinhua news agency ran a report late Monday revealing the development of what it said would be “the world’s fastest hypersonic wind tunnel”.

“The 265-meter-long tunnel can be used to test hypersonic aircraft that can travel at speeds of up to Mach 25 (30,625 kph), 25 times the speed of sound,” Han Guilai, a researcher with China’s State Key Laboratory of High Temperature Gas Dynamics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, was quoted as saying.

To compare, the current fastest generation of fighter jets can travel up to speeds of around 2.5 Mach.

The revelation comes as the world’s leading military nations embark on a race to develop the next generation of hypersonic weapons, from missiles and spy planes to railguns, that can beat conventional defence systems.

Earlier this month Russia’s president Vladimir Putin boasted his nation had developed a new generation of “invincible” hypersonic missiles in his state of the nation address, sparking anger in the United States and other NATO countries.

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