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Boeing X-51 (Waverider)

Scramjet Technology Demonstrator

Boeing X-51 (Waverider)

Scramjet Technology Demonstrator

OVERVIEW
SPECIFICATIONS
ARMAMENT
VARIANTS
HISTORY
IMAGES
Overview



The Boeing X-51 Waverider product is a pioneering effort in the realm of SCRAMJET engines.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United States
YEAR: 2010
MANUFACTURER(S): Boeing - USA
PRODUCTION: 4
OPERATORS: United States
National flag of United States
USA
Technical Specifications



Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Boeing X-51A (Waverider) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
CREW: 0
POWER: 1 x Pratt & Whitney SJX61 hydrocarbon fuel scramjet engine.
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LENGTH

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EMPTY WGT

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SPEED (MAX)

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CEILING

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RANGE

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Armament



None.
Variants / Models



• X-51 - Base Series Designation
• X-51A - Initial Demonstration vehicle; 4 examples produced.


History



Detailing the development and operational history of the Boeing X-51 (Waverider) Scramjet Technology Demonstrator.  Entry last updated on 4/25/2016. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The Boeing X-51 "Waverider" is an unmanned technology demonstrator designed to further develop the concept of shockwave-assisted, high-speed flight by way of an internal scramjet engine. The product was born from the 1990s-era Scramjet Engine Demonstrator program in which the SJX61 hydrocarbon-fueled engine was originally developed for the X-43, a NASA-sponsored unmanned hypersonic technology demonstrator (the "Hyper-X" program). While the X-43 eventually fell to naught, the research was later rolled into the Boeing X-51. Following a steady stream of ground tests beginning in 2006, the X-51 prototype recorded its first flight on May 26th, 2010 to which the test vehicle reached speeds of 4,000 miles per hour (Mach 6) when launched from a Boeing B-51 Stratofortress mothership. As of this writing (2013), the X-51 has been produced in four development examples.

A scramjet engine ("Supersonic Combustion RAMJET") - a concept initially developed in the technology evolution of the 1950s - makes use of incoming air (via an air intake) through extremely high-speed flight, the air being slowed prior to combustion . An inlet body manages the supersonic compression to which fuel is then injected during the combustion process and a nozzle manages the outgoing supersonic exhaust, therefore producing the required thrust. A scramjet, therefore, is related to a "ramjet" in its general approach though, in a ramjet engine, combustion occurs in subsonic airflow as oppose to supersonic. A scramjet can provide speeds rated in Mach values - even as high as Mach 12 - and is a future alternative to the conventionally-powered turbofan engines in wide-scale use today. One of the key limitations of modern scramjet technology is the lack of low-altitude, low-powered capabilities which require the airframe to be airlifted though use of a "host" / "mother" ship for its launching. From there, the scramjet must also be first brought to speed by way of a rocket booster.

The X-51's scramjet powerplant makes use of the same fuel as in the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, designated in the USAF inventory as "JP-7". The X-51 is hauled into the air by the host ship (B-52) and then air-launched. The X-51 initially utilizes the power of a modified Lockheed Martin MGM-140 ATacMS (Army Tactical Missile System) solid rocket booster to help clear the host ship and reach initial speeds (approximately Mach 4.5). Once the booster system is spent, the assembly is jettisoned, allowing the Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne SJY61 scramjet to take over in helping the airframe reach speeds nearing Mach 6. The aerodynamic principles involved in the X-51 fuselage design then react to the naturally-occurring shockwaves to add required lift (hence the nickname of "Waverider"). The fuselage consists of a well-sloped nose cone assembly, streamlined nearly-rectangular fuselage and short stubby wings about the design. An air intake is identified under the fuselage with the scramjet exhausting through the rear of the design in a conventional fashion. In essence, the X-51's configuration is similar to that of a streamlined cruise missile ala the "Tomahawk". Despite its unmanned design, the X-51's project data may very well be applied to all manner of future aircraft still to come - such as a scramjet-powered civilian airliner.

The X-51 sports a running length of 25 feet with an empty weight of 4,000lbs. Its presented operational range is 460 miles with a service ceiling of 70,000 feet.

As of 2013, the X-51 is still in active testing.




Media







Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 5000mph
Lo: 2500mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (3,604mph).

Graph average of 3750 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
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Graph showcases the Boeing X-51A (Waverider)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (4)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
4
4

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
A2A
Interception
UAV
Ground Attack
CAS
Training
ASW
Anti-Ship
AEW
MEDEVAC
EW
Maritime/Navy
SAR
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
VIP
Passenger
Business
Recon
SPECOPS
X-Plane/Development
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.


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