Onera, which bills itself as the French aerospace lab, is exploring engine technology to fly a missile at Mach 8 and beyond, as France seeks a new-generation hypersonic system to replace its current stock of supersonic nuclear-tipped airborne weapons.
“The new generation is here,” said an Onera research engineer, who declined to be identified. The engineer stood next to an engine test bench at the center’s facilities at Palaiseau, just outside the capital. The test bench is the more recent of two which were used for work on the airborne missile for a nuclear warhead.
“The new generation is typically further, higher, faster. Faster is up to eight times the speed of sound, or Mach 8. That’s what we’re aiming for,” he said.