A U.S. military test flight of the experimental hypersonic "Waverider" ended prematurely when the aircraft broke apart in the air over the Pacific Ocean due to a failure with its cruiser control fin, the U.S. Air Force said on Wednesday.
The problem with the fin was identified 16 seconds after a rocket booster on the unmanned X-51A aircraft was ignited to increase its speed, the Air Force said in a statement.
About 15 seconds later, when the X-51A separated from the rocket booster it lost control due to a "faulty control fin," the statement said.
The aircraft broke apart immediately and fell into the Pacific Ocean near Point Mugu northwest of Los Angeles, said Daryl Mayer, a spokesman for the 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. DM
Photo: An undated U.S. Air Force handout graphic depicts the X-51A Waverider in flight. The X-51A WaveRider, an unmanned aircraft that could reach speeds up to 3,600 mph (5,793 kph), will be launched from the wing of a B-52 on a test flight over the Pacific Ocean on August 14, 2012. REUTERS/US Air Force/Handout