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China continues to invest heavily in advanced wind tunnel facilities

China will commission a wind tunnel in the near future that is capable of conducting trials simulating hypersonic flight at speeds of up Mach 30, according to Han Guilai, a researcher at the Institute of Mechanics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (IMCAS).

The remarks were made during an online lecture held in late May and referred to a new wind tunnel under construction at the institute's facilities in the Huairou district on the northern outskirts of Beijing. The new hypersonic wind tunnel, identified as the JF-22, is in addition to IMCAS's JF-12 hypersonic wind tunnel, which was commissioned in about 2012 and can simulate an environment of speeds up to Mach 9 and altitudes of up to 40 km.

Both the JF-12 and JF-22 wind tunnels create a hypervelocity shockwave using an explosive source. According to Han, not only will the JF-22 increase the maximum velocity to Mach 30 but the 130 millisecond duration of the impulse during which trials data can be gathered is more than four times longer than that generated at the most advanced facility in the United States: the Large Energy National Shock II (LENS II) tunnel.

Han noted that the development of these hypersonic research facilities would probably place China 20–30 years ahead in the development of hypersonic and aerospace aircraft. The facilities will also contribute to the development of hypersonic weapons.

China has multiple research facilities for aerospace development, including the China Aerodynamics Research and Development Centre (CARDC) – located in Mianyang, Sichuan Province – which has an extensive range of testing facilities, encompassing low-speed, high-speed, and hypersonic wind tunnels.

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