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Prototype engine could enable supersonic drones


In a package that weighs just 22 pounds, a jet engine in development could let future drones cruise as fast as Mach 1.5, or  more than 1,100 mph. There is no physical prototype for the drone yet; computer simulations show a delta-wing configuration with a single engine and no vertical stabilizer. Right now the engine is undergoing static tests. Researchers in Colorado who are developing the drone’s engine want to have a functional prototype aircraft in the air by the end of the year, and they’re aiming to break speed records for drones in the process. After that, they envision a supersonic drone being used as a flying test bed for other high-speed aviation applications, at a cost much lower than a conventional aircraft. Of course, military uses abound, and the researchers could see such a drone being used in hurricane data collection as well.