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Subject: SR-72 Authorization Report - Mach 6+
VelocityVector    6/11/2007 5:40:37 PM
posted for opinion and commentary SR-72? Posted by Bill Sweetman at 6/11/2007 2:31 PM Our competitors Defense News report that the Air Force has handed Lockheed's Skunk Works a contract to develop "a stealthy 4,000-mph plane capable of flying to altitudes of about 100,000 feet, with transcontinental range." The rest of the story is subscription-only. If this sounds to you a lot like the "Aurora" stories of the early 1990s, you're right. However, early last year I had a conversation with a senior Skunk in which he talked about the company's proposal for a new high-speed, high-altitude X-plane. The X-plane would be the size of a fighter and would be designed for a speed of Mach 6.5 -- 4300 mph -- at 100,000 feet. (The SR-71 Blackbird, retired in 1990, could manage up to Mach 3.3 in sprints at 85,000 feet). It would be powered by two jet engines -- bigger versions of the engine used on the Skunk Works' RATTLRS (Revolutionary Approach To Time-critical Long Range Strike) cruise missile -- integrated into ramjets. . . . http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/defense/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&newspaperUserId=27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7&plckPostId=Blog%3a27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post%3a4110d532-407e-4b20-bec4-2a73586d2d77&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest v^2
 
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RockyMTNClimber    Umanned?   6/11/2007 5:46:37 PM
 
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VelocityVector    Unmanned?   6/11/2007 6:14:51 PM

No indication in Sweetman's blog and I don't subscribe to the cited source (actually perhaps I should check this as I just may have forgotten about it ;>) )

What I note with interest is the aircraft would burn ordinary fuel.  Also, it's to be fighter-sized.  I suspect one mission could be the MANNED aerial strike coordination role against time-sensitive maneuvering targets like mobile missile launchers.  You could use it to re-direct Tomahawks and maybe conventional SLBM.  For recon and conventional decapitation strike usage you wouldn't need to place a human in the pit IMO.

v^2

 
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VelocityVector       6/11/2007 6:33:59 PM

In addition to re-targeting the systems I mentioned above, SR-72 could direct minions against PRC assembly points and carrier killer launchers in the event PRC generals attempted to seize Taiwan.  Could simplify the work of SM-3 and BMD by thatching threat systems with conventional warheads thus deescalating a crisis.  You could also place DEW onboard assuming you can draw enough power from the engines or auxilliary at 100k ft agl.  Could serve as a launch platform for standoff EMP weaps, too, the possibilities are intriguing ;>)

v^2

 
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Jeff_F_F    Almost a space bomber.   6/11/2007 7:37:52 PM
The energy factor due to its altitude and speed would make it devastating against enemy aircraft as well. It could launch a missile without an engine that would be as effective as a modern rocket-boosted AAM. Or a fairly conventional missile could be reprogrammed to coast until close to an enemy before using its rocket to boost its velocity for a final attack. Very nasty.
 
Why stop there though. Private companies in the US and Europe are building suborbital craft, why isn't the military doing the same?
 
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VelocityVector       6/11/2007 7:46:52 PM

Good points.  I guess I'd envisioned a Mach 6 sprint followed by sustained loiter at considerably reduced velocity in stealth mode.  It is to be fighter-sized after all, but I like your version better ;>)

v^2

 
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hybrid       6/12/2007 5:30:00 AM

The energy factor due to its altitude and speed would make it devastating against enemy aircraft as well. It could launch a missile without an engine that would be as effective as a modern rocket-boosted AAM. Or a fairly conventional missile could be reprogrammed to coast until close to an enemy before using its rocket to boost its velocity for a final attack. Very nasty.

 

Why stop there though. Private companies in the US and Europe are building suborbital craft, why isn't the military doing the same?


Because the military wouldn't tell the public they're doing so if it meant keeping secret a potential first strike weapon that is almost impossible to defeat or potentially even detect?
 
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