A photo shows a segment of the JF-22 hypersonic wind tunnel. (Screengrab/CCTV News app)
Facility to first focus on developing gliding aircraft, multistage launch vehicles
Recent video coverage by China Media Group has revealed more details about the JF-22 hypersonic wind tunnel, which recently passed quality testing and is considered "the most advanced in the world".
The wind tunnel is designed to support a large number of simulated flight experiments that have to be conducted during the development of various aircraft.
In the testing stage, aircraft flight environments can be simulated by using the high-speed airflow generated in wind tunnels, which allows researchers to study the forces that play on the craft moving at high speeds, and this makes repeated engineering tests unnecessary and saves time.
According to the CMG report, the JF-22 hypersonic wind tunnel, which has a total length of 167 meters, can reproduce flight conditions at altitudes of 40 to 90 kilometers, with a maximum speed of up to 10 kilometers per second, or about 30 times the speed of sound.
Jiang Zonglin, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Mechanics, was quoted as saying that the performance of the JF-22 wind tunnel is "incomparable to any other wind tunnel in the world."
Jiang, who is also the project leader of the hypervelocity shockwave wind tunnel in Beijing's Huairou district, said the JF-22 hypersonic wind tunnel has a large flow field, can function for periods several times longer than similar wind tunnels and is more precise in running experiments.
The temperatures and total pressures generated are also higher, he said.
Song Zhongping, a military commentator, told Beijing Youth Daily that the successful development of the hypersonic wind tunnel provides a platform and new possibilities for China's technological exploration and testing of equipment in developing a new generation of high-speed aircraft.
The goal of developing the JF-22 hypersonic wind tunnel is mainly to solve the experimental research problems of hypersonic flight technology, according to the China Media Group report.
After the project's quality check, the research team will use the JF-22 wind tunnel to focus on the study of gliding aircraft, space-to-Earth flight vehicles and multistage launch vehicles to support China's development in hypersonic technology, it said.
Song said that round trips from Earth to space present many technical challenges and that the hypersonic wind tunnel is an indispensable experimental environment to study the process.
"Space-to-Earth flight not only provides more applications in aviation and aerospace but also greatly reduces launch costs," he added.