Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti reports that it obtained documents from the space design bureau of research agency NPO Molniya that reveal plans for a hypersonic booster called Hammer.
"The first stage of the project has been designed for the internal and external configuration of the Hammer hypersonic pilotless booster," the documents state. "It will be capable of carrying small satellites of up to 1,700 pounds into orbits from 125-300 miles."
The report adds the Hammer is based on the turbofan engines used in the Su-27 fighter jet. Hammer would deploy to altitude, release its payload and return to its airbase, the Russian news agency adds. Hammer would have both civilian and military uses.
A U.S. military test of the unmanned hypersonic X-51 Waverider failed last week after a control fin broke up and the aircraft fell into the sea.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, however, told Rossiya 24 TV that defense officials needed to consider hypersonic aviation technology to keep up with U.S. military research.
Russian officials had said any future hypersonic aircraft could enter military service as early as 2020. Defense analysts told the state-run news agency that any hypersonic bomber was likely 10-15 years out, however.
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