Plans for a 'hypersonic heavy bomber' that could fly between Beijing and New York in just two hours have been unveiled by Chinese researchers.
The aircraft would travel at hypersonic speeds, meaning it would soar around the Earth at more than 3,700mph (6,000km/h), or five times the speed of sound.
China's military could load the plane, which features two sets of wings, with 'anything from flowers to bombs', according to one expert.
The aircraft was designed by scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.
'It will take only a couple of hours to travel from Beijing to New York at hypersonic speed,' the researchers, led by Dr Cui Kai, wrote in their paper.
'This could provide more convenient and efficient transportation than present subsonic airplanes for long-distance journeys in future.'
It currently takes a normal passenger jet 14 hours to fly between the two cities – a distance of around 6,800 miles (11,000 kilometres).
The new vehicle features two sets of wings that utilise one another to reduce turbulence and drag.
Computer models of the aircraft show the design could hit speeds of Mach 5 to Mach 7, meaning five or seven times the speed of sound.
The design's dual wing sets mean it forms the shape of a capital 'I', which the scientists dub a 'hypersonic I-shaped aerodynamic configuration' (HIAC).
Following the paper's release, a Chinese military aircraft designer, who declined to be named, told the South China Morning Post the plans could be a 'game changer'.
He added that the hypersonic vehicle could be used to transport anything from flowers to bombs, and that passengers could be tourists or military personnel.
'We're talking about something like a hypersonic heavy bomber,' he said.
'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.'
Hypersonic aircraft are those capable of a hitting speeds five times the speed of sound or more.
The vehicles could be used to deliver missiles, including nuclear weapons, to targets around the world in a fraction of the time achieved by current craft.
Hypersonic vehicles travel so rapidly and unpredictably they could provide an almost-immediate threat to nations across the globe.
Since 2013, China has conducted seven successful test flights of its hypersonic glider DF-ZF.
The vehicle will be capable of speeds of between Mach 5 and Mach 10, or five to 10 times the speed of sound.
In November, Chinese state media revealed the country's first ever images of a model of its DF-ZF vehicle
The model was briefly shown during a State-run TV special covering the country's JF-12 hypersonic wind tunnel.
The TV clip, aired on October 8 via State broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV), showed an arrowhead-shaped model inside the Beijing-based wind tunnel.
Its design looks like official Chinese mock-ups of the DF-ZF, which was codenamed the WU-14 by the Pentagon before its official name was released by Beijing.
Chinese officials have confirmed several test flights of hypersonic glide vehicles since 2013, but have kept the details top secret.