The four speeds of flight are called the regimes of flight. The regimes of flight are subsonic, transonic, supersonic, and hypersonic. These speeds are referred to by Mach numbers. The Mach number is the ratio of the speed of the platform to the speed of sound. Flight that is faster than Mach 1 is supersonic. Supersonic includes speeds up to five times faster than the speed of sound, or Mach 5. A bullet fired from a gun is an example of an object that flies at supersonic speeds.

Listed below are the two types of hypersonic weapons, as identified by GlobalData.

Hypersonic cruise missiles (HCM)

Hypersonic cruise missiles are powered by rockets or jets throughout their flight. They are essentially faster versions of existing cruise missiles, like the Tomahawk. They are adept in sustained, powered hypersonic flight and capable of in-flight maneuvers. Engine operations, pressure, and temperature constraints limit flight altitudes to 70,000 to 100,000 feet.

Hypersonic glide vehicles (HGV)

Glide vehicles are similar to ballistic warheads, they are launched on high-velocity boosters, separate, then use momentum and control surfaces to skip and glide through the upper atmosphere before crashing onto their targets. Hypersonic boost-glide weapons are capable of speeds more than Mach 5 and fly at altitudes above 100,000 feet. Hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs) fly lower and are faster to the target than conventional re-entry vehicles.

This is an edited extract from the Hypersonic Technologies – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.

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