The US Air Force (USAF) is all set to flight-test a hypersonic missile, X-51 WaveRider, with tests scheduled to take place on 22 March 2011.

The 14ft-long X-51 Waverider will be launched from a B-52 bomber flying over the Pacific Ocean Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range, and will be rocket-boosted to speeds up to Mach 6.

The flight test is the second of four test flights under the $246.5m Waverider programme, which began in December 2003.

A senior USAF official has confirmed that the X-51 could eventually be turned into a weapon.

The X-51A WaveRider programme is a consortium of the USAF, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and Boeing.