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Thread: An SR-72? Lockheed Martinís New Mach-6 Spy Plane

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    Senior Member jetsetter's Avatar
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    Default An SR-72? Lockheed Martinís New Mach-6 Spy Plane

    Ten years after the U.S. Air Force retired the SR-71 spy plane, Lockheed Martinís legendary Skunk Works appears back at work developing a new Mach-6 reconnaissance plane, sources said.
    The Air Force has awarded Lockheedís Advanced Development Projects arm a top-secret contract to develop a stealthy 4,000-mph plane capable of flying to altitudes of about 100,000 feet, with transcontinental range. The plan is to debut the craft around 2020.
    The new jet ó being referred to by some as the SR-72 ó is likely to be unmanned and, while intended for reconnaissance, it could eventually trade its sensors for weapons.
    The Air Force is working on several programs to improve its global intelligence-gathering. Satellites offer global coverage, but the ones with the highest resolution operate on largely predictable orbits, and many countries have mastered the art of hiding from them. Moreover, Chinaís successful anti-satellite missile test in January hinted that U.S. satellites might become vulnerable.
    The new aircraft would offer a combination of speed, altitude and stealth that could make it virtually impervious to ground-based missiles, sources said. Even the SR-71 is said to have evaded hundreds of missiles fired at it during its long career, although some aircraft sustained minor damage. But experts say enormous challenges remain. First, the SR-71ís top speed was about 2,200 mph. Pushing a plane at twice the speed in the thin air of the upper stratosphere would require exceptionally powerful engines. Second, friction at high speeds could reduce stealth.
    ďAn aircraft with these characteristics could prove a potent response to anti-satellite weapons,Ē said Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute. ďIf U.S. reconnaissance satellites were lost, an SR-72 could get to areas of interest quickly and provide persistent surveillance in place of the satellite.Ē
    And donít bother asking the Air Force or Skunk Works execs about their work. Neither is commenting and Skunk Works is skipping next weekís Paris Air Show.
    ďAs a matter of policy, we donít talk about classified programs ó whether or not they exist,Ē said Lockheedís Tom Jurkowsky. ē

    http://www.defensenews.com/story.php...4311&C=america
    One has to wonder how big something like this would be. A mach 6 UAV does have its advantages.

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    Cunning Linguist Ratamacue's Avatar
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    Would be interesting to know what it uses for propulsion. The only systems that I know of that have gotten planes to those kinds of speeds are rockets (as with the X-15) and scramjets (as with the X-43). The problem with scramjets is that they need a secondary propulsion system to get the aircraft up to speeds where a scramjet can operate (around Mach 5). So if they're going that route, it's possible that they need to design an aircraft with turbojet, ramjet, and scramjet engines all in one airframe.

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    Senior Member kamaz's Avatar
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    waste of taxpayer's money. We have drones and hi orbit sats that can do the same job at fraction of the cost. Pork barrel spending at its finest.

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    Cunning Linguist Ratamacue's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kamaz View Post
    waste of taxpayer's money. We have drones and hi orbit sats that can do the same job at fraction of the cost. Pork barrel spending at its finest.
    Did you even read the article?

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    I thought the escape of UBL emphasized that we don't need ridiculous high tech surveilance? Did I spell that right? I dunno.

    The only instance in which China would use an anti-satellite missile on our satellites is if we are at war with them. When the f@ck will that happen? And if it does, is it cost effective to have a ridiculously expensive jet flying over China? or many cheaper UAVs?

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    Senior Member Chulo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ratamacue View Post
    Did you even read the article?
    im sure he doenst know how to read

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    Senior Member JJC's Avatar
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    Will it be a problem for a human body at mach 6 speeds; do we know when a human body hits its limits?

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    Cunning Linguist Ratamacue's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJC View Post
    Will it be a problem for a human body at mach 6 speeds; do we know when a human body hits its limits?
    The speed doesn't matter. The X-15 rocketplane made it to Mach 6.85 (7,274 kph @ 58,522 m) in 1967. The Space Shuttle goes Mach 25 (27,875 kph in low Earth orbit). The limiting factor for humans is the acceleration, not the speed. And regardless, had you read the article, you would have noticed that this aircraft is most likely to be unmanned.

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    Senior Member Robbee's Avatar
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    ^ The Space Shuttle also reenters the atmosphere at Mach 18.

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    Senior Member nullterm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ratamacue View Post
    Would be interesting to know what it uses for propulsion. The only systems that I know of that have gotten planes to those kinds of speeds are rockets (as with the X-15) and scramjets (as with the X-43). The problem with scramjets is that they need a secondary propulsion system to get the aircraft up to speeds where a scramjet can operate (around Mach 5). So if they're going that route, it's possible that they need to design an aircraft with turbojet, ramjet, and scramjet engines all in one airframe.
    Could use a rocket booster to get it up to the speed required for a scramjet to operate. Just a hunk of metal and propellant. Or go the SR-71 route and have a hybrid engine, as the SR-71's engines were a mix of turbo- and ram-jet.

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    Senior Member D-gin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJC View Post
    Will it be a problem for a human body at mach 6 speeds; do we know when a human body hits its limits?
    Not sure but with the development of UAV technology the need for manned reconnaissance planes seems to have come to an end for the most part (and since this plane/UAV won't be entering service until 2020 I doubt it would be manned in the first place), Why bother putting all the extra support items into a new plane if you don't have to.

    Why take the chance of having a Pilot with fatigue from experiencing such a long strenuous flight when they can just chill out in a control center and eat power bars?

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    I am beginning to think nobody but a few of us actually read the article.

    It will be UNMANNED.

    As you were.

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    Senior Member nullterm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by melon View Post
    I am beginning to think nobody but a few of us actually read the article.

    It will be UNMANNED.

    As you were.
    People see SR-72 and immediately think guy in spacesuit. If it said Hypersonic Global Hawk then people would probably get it.

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    Senior Member D-gin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by melon View Post
    I am beginning to think nobody but a few of us actually read the article.

    It will be UNMANNED.

    As you were.
    I did read the article and it did NOT say it WOULD be unmanned it said:
    being referred to by some as the SR-72 ó is likely to be unmanned

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    Senior Member nullterm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by D-gin View Post
    I did read the article and it did NOT say it WOULD be unmanned it said:
    Good spot, missed that part myself.

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