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SR 72 in the Works?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Windini, Mar 22, 2020.

  1. Windini

    Windini SWDD Charter Life Member

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  2. JBoyette

    JBoyette Well-Known Member

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    The B1 was to perform this role but never got the thumbs up. Now its a little bro to the B52
     
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  3. turkeydance

    turkeydance Well-Known Member

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    as a drone maybe?
     
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  4. Dave951

    Dave951 Happy to be here

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    Call me crazy but, I seriously doubt the SR71 would have been retired unless there was already something much better and a quantum leap forward already operational.
     
  5. Windini

    Windini SWDD Charter Life Member

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    No, it'll be piloted... but only in a straight line. ;)
     
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  6. 9outof10mms

    9outof10mms Purveyor of Professional Enginerding Supporting Member

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    Partly correct. Satellites took a huge chunk of the Blackbird's job away from it. But even so, it's really difficult to change the orbit of a satellite to get a real-time (within 6 hours) image of a hot spot.

    That National Interest site is garbage. They produce articles for clicks--hardly ever any substance or proper citation. They pop up on my Google recommended news articles all the time with crap like "is the AR-15 the ultimate weapon" or "AR-15 vs. AK-47" stories.

    I digress...Back to the subject.
    If we're thinking the Air Force doesn't have a hyper-sonic aircraft of some sort, we're kidding ourselves. They fly the X-37 space vehicle right under (or above?) our noses doing all sorts of secret squirrel studies and surveillance. Who knows what flies when/where we can't see.
     
  7. Ben Jefferson

    Ben Jefferson Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    With the advent of newer materials and methodologies, the SR-71 type airframe could easily exceed the limitations of the earlier version. That thing was built for extreme speed and was a leaky, pig at lower at lower/slower conditions.

    It would be neat to see how much better it could be...

    ... But whoa boy, not cheap!
     
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  8. Dave951

    Dave951 Happy to be here

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    Read this wiki article and especially the US Sightings section. Article deals mainly with the Aurora-
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurora_(aircraft)

    Cliff notes- seismographs in CA detected a series of sonic booms consistent with Mach 4+ on a regular schedule for a while. Later, "doughnuts on a rope" contrails were photographed, believed to be the signature of a pulse jet. Aurora? Maybe, maybe not.

    Being very interested in military aviation, I think that systems we have in place that are public knowledge are more capable than we're told and there are operational aircraft we won't know about for decades to come after something else better is invented and even then, if there is some critical technical part, it would probably be talked about only as a "dead end" experiment that was abandoned. Look at the B2 and F117, both were extremely classified when they were developed. I'd bet that there's some really cool stuff being tested at Groom Lake.

    On an aside, one of my sons is a USAF pilot and he's been to the Red Flag exercise a couple times. He still laughs about the "hole" in the middle of their airspace play area that's off limits and nothing marked on the maps. It's Area 51. You can see it out the cockpit window and woe to those who so much as clip the corner of that airspace.
     
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  9. Chuckman

    Chuckman Senior Member Sponsor

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    I know a man who was an instructor for Topgun, he and a colleague were invited to Area 51 to test drive a captured Soviet AC. He said he had a very specific window to show up, they took everything off the line and into hangers and closed the doors. When he landed, he was directed to a specific hanger. He and his fellow pilot had so sign all sorts of NDAs. When they were driving the Soviet fighter out of the hanger to fly he said the flightline looked like something from the future.
     
  10. GreatGazoo

    GreatGazoo Li'l Green Guy Supporting Member

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    Like one of these babies:
    [​IMG]
     
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  11. 9outof10mms

    9outof10mms Purveyor of Professional Enginerding Supporting Member

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    Those are normal con-trails altered by atmospheric conditions. I've seen them numerous times around North Carolina. Unless they were foolish/careless enough to test in broad daylight, I think they're just regular old con-trails.

    We'll find out when Top Gun II comes out. Maverick is flying something spicy and sercret!
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2020
  12. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Get over it, snowflake. Charter Life Member

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    The SR-72 used to be on Lockheed-Martin's website...but I can't find it there, now.

    That may or may not mean anything, but hypersonic aircraft and weapons have been seriously in development for a number of decades, so it wouldn't surprise me to learn of it's actual existence sometime down the road...and existence that dates back to the hear-and-now.

    That remains to be seen.

    What role will it play?

    Honestly, I doubt it would be a "bomber". What an entire hypersonic plane could do as a bomber can be more readily done by hypersonic-capable cruise missiles. For the equivalent cost of a single such bomber, we could field a cr*p-ton of of stealthy, maneuverable, exceptionally difficult to intercept missiles. Rather, I strongly suspect the prime role of such a craft would be reconnaissance. The ability to rapidly deploy spy assets literally anywhere in the world inside of a single hour is a major military ability.

    Business insider had an interesting article dated two years ago on this:

    https://www.businessinsider.com/sr-72-lockheed-martin-hinted-may-already-exist-2018-1

    Popular Mechanics published an article a while back on information released by Lockheed-Martin about this program:

    https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/aviation/a26796/hypersonic-sr-72-aircraft/
     
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  13. Alfred

    Alfred E. Deplorabus Unum Supporting Member

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    And like most good magicians watching the other hand is doing is important.
     
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  14. RFMan

    RFMan Member Benefactor Life Member

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    Hypersonic things are the hotness these days...
     
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  15. random

    random Active Member

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    The SR-71 was a lot faster than people realize. The top speed was listed as Mach 3+ - I remember once being in on communications on a flight, don't remember the exact bases, but basically from about DC-ish to London.

    Let's just say, HEAVY on the "+"

    I would be VERY interested in anything they choose to replace it.
     
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  16. Ben Jefferson

    Ben Jefferson Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Yessir the USS Nimitz was only capable of 30 knots too!
    :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::D
     
  17. cold1

    cold1 Member Supporting Member

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    What's amazing to me about the SR71 is that it was designed with slide rulers.
     
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  18. Alfred

    Alfred E. Deplorabus Unum Supporting Member

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    There's some performance specs here...both speed ( Mach 3.3+) and altitude ( 85k+) are noted as "Unless authorized by the Commander", so actual operating limits aren't even in there. The max speed seemed to be governed by the compressor inlet temperature ( 427 Celsius) more than anything else. I suspect looking at the change in flight envelope limits ( max pitch, Gs, turns, etc) at speed and altitude that a lot of ugly things start to happen out at the edge of its abilities. This was not a docile airplane.

    https://www.sr-71.org/blackbird/manual/
     
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  19. 9outof10mms

    9outof10mms Purveyor of Professional Enginerding Supporting Member

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    in 1957, no less!!! At least, its original sketches were done then.
     
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  20. 9outof10mms

    9outof10mms Purveyor of Professional Enginerding Supporting Member

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    I have a digital copy of Sled Driver, the famous holy grail book about the SR-71 written by Brian Shul. If anyone would like a link to it, send me a PM. Finding an actual print copy is difficult and expensive.
     
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  21. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Get over it, snowflake. Charter Life Member

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    BINGO!

    The Blackbird has been my favorite aircraft of all time, and I even have pictures of some of them dating back to the early 70s taken by a brother of mine who was in the Air Force at the time.

    The actual beginning of this project dates back to 1956 with the CIAs request for "a jet that could fly at extremely high speeds and altitudes while incorporating state-of-the-art techniques in radar absorption or deflection". It was codenamed GUSTO.

    In 1957, the U-2 Project Manager set up an advisory committee to select the design which had a whole buncha top-dog bigwigs in it.

    It was Lockheed's chief engineer Kelly Johnson who said "“It makes no sense to just take this one or two steps ahead, because we’d be buying only a couple of years before the Russians would be able to nail us again….I want us to come up with an airplane that can rule the skies for a decade or more."

    And on April 21, 1958 they commenced the design work on an aircraft that would cruise at Mach 3.0 at altitudes above 90,000 feet. The design concept was submitted to the committee July 23, 1958, three months later.

    The project was codenamed "Archangel" and progressed through several iterations from Archangel-1, Archangel-2, etc. (The numbers starting to sound familiar?)

    In March 1959, Lockheed developed a design for the A-11. It would have a top speed of Mach 3.2, a range of 3,200 miles, and an altitude of 90,000 feet, and could be ready by January 1961.

    This went through further design evolutions to become the A-12, in the curvy configuration we know of today. August 29, 1959, it was selected by the committee. BUT Lockheed had 4 months to prove the design would reduce the radar cross section significantly.

    Construction actually began in September of 1960.

    God, I love this aircraft!

    Here's a really cool read on the history:

    https://www.cia.gov/library/center-...nographs/a-12/Archangel-2ndEdition-2Feb12.pdf
     
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  22. 9outof10mms

    9outof10mms Purveyor of Professional Enginerding Supporting Member

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    Radar cross-sections? Where we're going, we don't radar cross-sections!
    [​IMG]

    Seriously though...when you're flying faster and higher than any bullet/missile can hit, I'd opt for a cross section that pings on the operator's screen as a giant middle finger. Or at least a wiener.
    [​IMG]
     
  23. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Get over it, snowflake. Charter Life Member

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    The brother of mine I mentioned before used to tell me stories of flights over China. (Given that he was a Loadmaster on C-130s, they weren't his personal stories.)

    The claim was the Chinese would get three hits on their radar sweeps before the aircraft passed beyond range. And that's if they caught the plane at the edge on the first sweep.

    The only way interceptors had any chance at all was if they were already in the air and headed up when the craft was first "sighted". There was simply no other way to get within missile range in time.
     
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  24. Alfred

    Alfred E. Deplorabus Unum Supporting Member

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    Strangely Lockheed was ordered to destroy all of the Blackbird tooling in 1968. Curious...
     
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  25. RFMan

    RFMan Member Benefactor Life Member

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    Just like for the Avro Arrow in Canada.

    I understand the accounting THEORY of destroying useful, innovative, unique, high-tech, high-performance, etc., items after a contract is fulfilled or cancelled...but I've never understood why anyone would actually DO it. :mad:

    My daddy would have kicked their ass. "Put that in the shed - we might need it some time!"
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2020
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  26. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Get over it, snowflake. Charter Life Member

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    Actually, not curious at all from a security standpoint.

    This project was so far ahead of the Soviets that it couldn't be measured in years... it had to be measured in decades.

    To ensure it was KEPT that way, a lot of stuff was destroyed after these were built.

    In fact, here we are today and NOBODY else in the world has come close to touching this achievement...7 decades later.

    Most of the Soviet advances in a great many areas were the direct result of espionage and theft. This despite whatever security measures that were in place to prevent it.
     
  27. Windini

    Windini SWDD Charter Life Member

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    Hm, sure glad that isn't happening with any Communist nations nowadays!

    Wait... :mad:

    I remember hearing a loud plane heading up from a nearby "airport" in Okinawa once when I was about 9 or 10. Dad & I were walking back to our side of the duplex after getting out of his '67 Charger; he nudged me and said, "See that plane?"
    Me: "Yeah."
    Dad: "It isn't there."
    Me: "Huh?"
    Dad (with a wink): "The Chairman would be very upset if that plane wwere there, so my bosses assure me it isn't."
     
  28. Alfred

    Alfred E. Deplorabus Unum Supporting Member

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  29. random

    random Active Member

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    I don't know how close to top speed it was going, but it crossed the atlantic in only about # hours... Would be interesting to see someone who understood the numbers run them to see what they came up with (although I suspect those specs don't quite match the physical reality)

    The design of this thing was insane. The seams were loose to account for heating during flight. Basically two massive engines with a tiny cockpit, and the pilot's flight suit was practically a space suit.

    If I were the conspiracy theory type, I would be wondering what other alien technology we've lifted
     
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  30. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Get over it, snowflake. Charter Life Member

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    The issue with actual "top performance" is complicated.

    In fact, it's entirely possible that they may never have pushed it to the "limits".

    It had a design criteria. It met the design criteria. It had a (relatively) short testing period, which tends to be strictly in accordance with the design testing program.

    And then it spent the rest of its operational life flying missions. Missions that were mapped out to the last detail with very little room for deviation.

    The bird flew high and fast... and it WANTED to fly hard and fast, by all accounts.

    But that design operating envelop likely wasn't just there for sh*its and giggles. It didn't fly like other aircraft and it likely needed to be held within those limits for good reason.
     
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  31. 9outof10mms

    9outof10mms Purveyor of Professional Enginerding Supporting Member

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    I read an account (might have been in Sled Driver) from a pilot who described being shot at...I forget what airspace he was over. He said they were evading the launches and mashing the throttle. Before they knew it, they were hitting Mach 3.3 and the jet was actually getting calmer and easier to fly with plenty of headroom left before they decided the threat was gone and they could decelerate.
     
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  32. random

    random Active Member

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    Anyone remember back in the 80's when North Korea decided to launch a missile at one? Missile exploded 100 miles behind it.

    I was just talking to my son about this. We actually think that this country no longer has the capability to create something even comparable at this time.
     
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  33. 9outof10mms

    9outof10mms Purveyor of Professional Enginerding Supporting Member

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  34. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Get over it, snowflake. Charter Life Member

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    Would you guys believe they made three interceptors?

    The YF-12A, a twin seater version of the A-12. It was actually also part of the coverup for the CIA's program which led to the SR-71. LBJ released the existence of the YF-12A while letting the A-12 and what became the SR-71 secret.

    TRIVIA:

    The SR-71 was originally "RS-71", a carryover from "Reconnaissance/Strike" from the B-70 program. LeMay lobbied to have it changed in LBJ's speech to "SR-71" for "Strategic Reconnaissance".

    Believe it or not, the Air Force ordered 93 F-12B aircraft in 1965. But funding was canceled for three years because of Vietnam. In 1968 the program was cancelled as they were deemed no longer necessary.
     
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  35. Windini

    Windini SWDD Charter Life Member

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    Technically, that would mean fly unto disintigration, right?

    At least, that's been my experience with various life lessons... :)
     
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  36. Ronsc

    Ronsc LIberalism is a disease..

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    I had the opportunity to see these birds firsthand during some Air Force time at Kadena AFB Okinawa in the early 80’s before they were decommissioned. And an absolute marvel they were indeed. Landing approach would take them right over base housing.... Great photo ops ( which of course I myself would never consider)
    Upon landing they spent very little time on the runway. Several vehicles would be on site at engine shutdown and tow vehicles quickly whisked them away to the hangars usually under tarps. Even at that late date, security/secrecy was adhered to. On the deck they leaked fuel like a sieve.


    The locals nicknamed them the Habu an Okinawan pit viper. The islanders were also fond of a local wine (Habushu ) that contained this snake in each bottle!
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2020
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  37. 9outof10mms

    9outof10mms Purveyor of Professional Enginerding Supporting Member

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