A scramjet (supersonic combustion ramjet) is a type of jet engine in which the combustion process takes place in supersonic airflow. Both ramjets and scramjets rely on high vehicle speed to forcefully compress (ram) the incoming air, but whereas a ramjet decelerates the air to subsonic velocities before combustion, airflow in a scramjet is supersonic throughout the entire engine.

This allows the scramjet to efficiently operate at extremely high speeds: theoretical projections place the top speed of a scramjet between Mach 12 and Mach 24, which is near orbital velocity. For comparison, the fastest manned airbreathing aircraft, the SR-71 Blackbird, has a maximum speed of Mach 3.2.

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