China makes progress in powerful wind tunnel for developing hypersonic weapons

Suspected hypersonic missile warhead unveiled by China’s CCTV. (Screenshot from CCTV)

The 1-meter hypersonic aerodynamic wind tunnel FL-64 of China Aviation Industry Group’s Pneumatic Institute has recently completed the main Mach number flow field calibration, and the relevant indicators meet the requirements, the wind tunnel will play an important role in the development of hypersonic weapons and equipment of China.

According to a report by the Chinese media “Global Times” on November 21, China’s aviation industry said the wind tunnel is a part of China’s aerospace strategy and supports the development of hypersonic weapons and equipment. The FL-64 wind tunnel, which took only two years to build, set a speed record for a hypersonic wind tunnel of its type.

The FL-64 wind tunnel can simulate speeds of up to Mach 8, according to the Chinese media citing Jane’s Defense Weekly on Nov. 22.

Construction of the FL-64 wind tunnel was officially started at the end of 2019, with a successful aerated dynamic load test run in December 2020, while the main wind tunnel construction and major Mach number commissioning were completed in September 2021. It is the latest construction of China’s 1-meter magnitude large hypersonic aerodynamic wind tunnel, designed Mach number range 4.0-8.0, the highest simulated total temperature of 900K, the maximum simulated height of 48 km, with blowing suction and blowing lead two modes of operation, the effective operating time of not less than 30 seconds.

In addition, the FL-64 wind tunnel can meet the traditional force/pressure measurement, intake, power simulation, weapon separation and delivery, as well as aerodynamic thermal and flow display test requirements of hypersonic vehicles. Its operation and use will add another important tool for China’s hypersonic weapons and equipment development and security, and play an irreplaceable role in basic hypersonic aerodynamic technology research, aerodynamic layout selection and verification, as well as key engineering issues.

In recent years, China has deployed a number of hypersonic weapons. CNN previously reported that the U.S. is in a race with China and Russia to develop hypersonic weapons amid rising global tensions. China is developing them “at a rapid pace” and is investing so much effort that the U.S. is “falling behind.”

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