CHINA is planning to build "hypersonic heavy bombers" that could fly between Beijing and New York in just two hours.
Researchers revealed proposals for an aircraft with two sets of wings that could soar around the Earth at more than 3,700mph – or five times the speed of sound.
And one expert warns that China's ever-growing military could load the plane with “anything from flowers to bombs”.
The aircraft was designed by scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.
Team leader Dr Cui Kai said: “It will take only a couple of hours to travel from Beijing to New York at hypersonic speed.
“This could provide more convenient and efficient transportation than present subsonic airplanes for long-distance journeys in future.”
What are hypersonic aircraft?
Hypersonic aircraft can go five times the speed of sound or more.
They go so fast they are an almost-immediate threat to nations across the world.
Missiles, including nuclear weapons, can strike targets in a fraction of the time achieved by current craft.
Once developed, military chiefs have the ability to identify and destroy a target within few hours.
Since 2013, China has had seven successful tests of its hypersonic glider DF-ZF.
It will eventually be capable of speeds of between Mach 5 and Mach 10, or five to 10 times the speed of sound.
The Pentagon tested tested HTV-2 in 2011, a drone capable of Mach 20.
But the hypersonic flight lasted just a few minutes before crashing.
Currently it takes a jumbo jet 14 hours to fly between Beijing and New York – a distance of around 6,800 miles.
It can reach this amazing speed partly because the plane has two sets of wings that combine to cut drag and turbulence.
Following the paper's release, a Chinese military aircraft designer, who declined to be named, told the South China Morning Post: “We're talking about something like a hypersonic heavy bomber.
“It's a crazy design, but somehow they've managed to make it work. It could lead to a huge step forward in hypersonic technology.”
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