Skunk Works Ramps Up Hypersonics

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Unread post28 Sep 2017, 19:15

http://aviationweek.com/defense/amid-sr ... ypersonics

Amid SR-72 Rumors, Skunk Works Ramps Up Hypersonics

Sep 27, 2017
Guy Norris

FORT WORTH, Texas—
Lockheed Martin is ramping up development of hypersonic system technology as observers report the first sightings of a demonstrator vehicle believed to be linked to the Skunk Works’ planned SR-72 high-speed aircraft project. “Although I can’t go into specifics, let us just say the Skunk Works team in Palmdale, California, is doubling down on our commitment to speed,” says Orlando Carvalho, executive vice president of aeronautics at Lockheed Martin, speaking at the SAE International Aerotech Congress and Exhibition here. “Simply put, I believe the United States is on the verge of a hypersonics revolution,” he says.

Referencing ongoing development of the Darpa/U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory Tactical Boost Glide weapon and Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept research program, the latter in competition with Raytheon, Carvalho says, “Over the last decade progress has been moving quickly, and hypersonic technology is clearly becoming apparent to everyone as a game changer. We continue to advance and test technology which will benefit hypersonic flight and are working on multiple programs, including two Darpa efforts. Speed matters, especially when it comes to national security.” While making no specific mention of the SR-72, which the company is proposing as a hypersonic replacement for the long-retired high-supersonic SR-71 Blackbird, Carvalho’s positive remarks echo recent comments by Rob Weiss, executive vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs organization. Speaking to Aviation Week in June, Weiss hinted that progress towards an optionally piloted SR-72 precursor flight research vehicle (FRV) was proceeding on schedule.

Skunk Works is believed to be planning the start of FRV development next year, with first flight targeted for 2020. The FRV will be around the same size as an F-22 and powered by a full-scale, combined-cycle engine. However, in the run-up to the demonstrator development, Lockheed is thought to be testing several discrete technologies in a series of ground and flight tests. According to information provided to Aviation Week, one such technology demonstrator, believed to be an unmanned subscale aircraft, was observed flying into the U.S. Air Force’s Plant 42 at Palmdale, where Skunk Works is headquartered. The vehicle, which was noted landing in the early hours at an unspecified date in late July, was seen with two T-38 escorts. Lockheed Martin declined to comment directly on the sighting. The company previously has said the follow-on step would be development of a full-scale, twin-engined SR-72. With roughly the same proportions as the SR-71, the larger vehicle would enter flight test in the late 2020s. “Hypersonics is like stealth. It is a disruptive technology and will enable various platforms to operate at two to three times the speed of the Blackbird,” Carvalho says. “Operational survivability and lethality is the ultimate deterrent. Security classification guidance will only allow us to say the speed is greater than Mach 5.”
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Unread post28 Sep 2017, 23:22

http://www.popularmechanics.com/militar ... unk-works/

Hypersonic SR-72 Demonstrator Reportedly Spotted at Skunk Works

By Jay Bennett
Sep 28, 2017

A subscale demonstrator was reportedly spied at Lockheed's facilities in California as the aerospace giant touts the imminent coming of hypersonic aircraft.

Lockheed Martin's Advanced Development Programs, better known as Skunk Works, might be further along in the development process for the SR-72 than it has let on. A proposed hypersonic reconnaissance and strike aircraft, the SR-72 would serve as a replacement for the famed SR-71 Blackbird, which was retired by the Air Force back in 1998. In June, Lockheed announced early progress on the program, and now a source told Aviation Week that they spotted a small demonstrator aircraft landing at Skunk Works facilities in Palmdale, California, possibly associated with early tests for the unmanned SR-72 program. According to information provided to Aviation Week, one such technology demonstrator, believed to be an unmanned subscale aircraft, was observed flying into the U.S. Air Force's Plant 42 at Palmdale, where Skunk Works is headquartered. The vehicle, which was noted landing in the early hours at an unspecified date in late July, was seen with two T-38 escorts. Lockheed Martin declined to comment directly on the sighting.

The reported sighting corresponds with announcements from Lockheed regarding progress in hypersonic aircraft research. The aerospace firm previously reported work on a combined-cycle engine that uses elements of both a turbine and a scramjet to achieve hypersonic speeds, something Lockheed Martin tested with partner Aerojet Rocketdyne from 2013 to 2017. Two combined-cycle engines are planned to power the SR-72, which is designed to be about the same size of the SR-71 and could achieve first flight in the late 2020s. An optionally piloted flight research vehicle (FRV) is also in the works to flight test elements of the SR-72 design. The FRV will be about the size of an F-22 and use a single combined-cycle engine for propulsion. Development of the FRV is expected to begin next year and first flights could occur as soon as 2020. Leading up to the FRV, Lockheed could be conducting ground and flight tests on even smaller demonstrators, which might explain the small aircraft that was reportedly spotted landing at Lockheed Martin facilities in California. In addition to the sighting, Orlando Carvalho, executive vice president of aeronautics at Lockheed Martin, alluded to the SR-72 program at this week's SAE International Aerotech Congress and Exhibition in Fort Worth, Texas. "Although I can't go into specifics, let us just say the Skunk Works team in Palmdale, California, is doubling down on our commitment to speed," he said, as reported by Aviation Week. Carvalho went on to say, "Hypersonics is like stealth. It is a disruptive technology and will enable various platforms to operate at two to three times the speed of the Blackbird... Security classification guidance will only allow us to say the speed is greater than Mach 5."

With classified military aircraft development, it has historically been the case that systems and flight testing begin years before details of the program are made public. Such was the case with the original SR-71, as well as the F-117 Nighthawk and the B-2 Spirit stealth aircraft. The fact that Skunk Works is letting some information slip about the SR-72 program, combined with the possible subscale demonstrator sighting in Palmdale, suggests the Blackbird's hypersonic successor could only be a matter of time.
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Unread post28 Sep 2017, 23:59

As 'blindpilot' once alluded to... " Where will the EFT's go? It's range is too short. Too expensive. Why can't it be stealthy like the old f-35's? Those are some of the things I think morons will whine about with this.
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Unread post29 Sep 2017, 16:03

Feels like they're prepping the public for the inevitable sightings. My guess would be it's already in service in limited numbers...

Now it's up to The Russians to develop their Mig-41 hypersonic airbreathing/spaceplane wonder bird... :)
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Unread post29 Sep 2017, 22:12

2 to 3 X black bird??? That's Mach 7 to 10!!!
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Unread post02 Oct 2017, 00:13

I wonder if they found a solution for the big metal expansion the sr71 sufferer at those big fat machs.
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Unread post02 Oct 2017, 04:53

nutshell wrote:I wonder if they found a solution for the big metal expansion the sr71 sufferer at those big fat machs.


Composites don't expand, though they will need heat shields and active cooling.
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Unread post02 Oct 2017, 06:44

nutshell wrote:I wonder if they found a solution for the big metal expansion the sr71 sufferer at those big fat machs.


....CNRP (F-35) is often mentioned as "Space Craft" material, maybe as a SR-72??
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Unread post02 Oct 2017, 06:54

Carbon fibre coated in ceramic is already used for the internal surfaces of fighter engine exhausts; pretty sure they're exposed to higher temperatures than the SR-71's skin ever was. No idea how well you can limit the ablation on that ceramic though.
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Unread post02 Oct 2017, 08:55

Dragon029 wrote:Carbon fibre coated in ceramic is already used for the internal surfaces of fighter engine exhausts; pretty sure they're exposed to higher temperatures than the SR-71's skin ever was. No idea how well you can limit the ablation on that ceramic though.

.....having seen first hand the results of the capsule heat shields and the sea water landings, it is difficult to extract the most damaging active component.
..... The ritual replacement of the damaged tiles on the shuttles, is unknown to me if the erosion or material or construction failures of the tiles led to the ablations.
.... The development for the Orion capsule had to address the ablation issues and materials for the new designs.
....and now a Mach 5+ SR-72..
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Unread post12 Jan 2018, 21:49

Looks like Boeing is coming in second place again:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/militar ... blackbird/

If China produced this design people would say they stole it from Lockmart. :doh:

Then again maybe there isn't that much choice about good hypersonic shapes.

Meanwhile, Lockmart exec talked about having built the sr-72: ie, past tense. He also said that it was "agile" at hypersonic speeds. :shock:

The remarks are at 59 min:


https://livestream.com/AIAAvideo/scitec ... /168229789
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Unread post13 Jan 2018, 01:36

Dragon029 wrote:Carbon fibre coated in ceramic is already used for the internal surfaces of fighter engine exhausts; pretty sure they're exposed to higher temperatures than the SR-71's skin ever was. No idea how well you can limit the ablation on that ceramic though.


You sure the fiber isn't silicon carbide? I've never heard of a ceramic matrix carbon composite. Not saying I don't believe you, just have never heard of it. I work in the carbon composite business.
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Unread post13 Jan 2018, 03:33

sferrin wrote:
Dragon029 wrote:Carbon fibre coated in ceramic is already used for the internal surfaces of fighter engine exhausts; pretty sure they're exposed to higher temperatures than the SR-71's skin ever was. No idea how well you can limit the ablation on that ceramic though.


You sure the fiber isn't silicon carbide? I've never heard of a ceramic matrix carbon composite. Not saying I don't believe you, just have never heard of it. I work in the carbon composite business.


....would this be similar?;
https://www.sglgroup.com/cms/internatio ... _locale=en

...no experience with this material but it is in my experience of ceramic vessels, piping, sensors, controls, etc.!
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Unread post13 Jan 2018, 07:52

Sooo, scramjet engines are solid state. This suggests they might be difficult to design difficult to develop, but affordable to produce using 3d metal printing.

Were this the case hypersonic missiles might be sufficiently affordable to field in significant numbers (though the need for liquid fuels might make logistics and operations more challenging and expensive).

However, let's say you can shrink these missiles down to the size of an air launched cruise missile and fit them with a seeker. Could they be used as long range boost phase interceptors in places like NK and Iran?

Assuming they go at 4200 mph, and need a 10 sec rocket boost to get up to speed. Then from launch they can cross 200 mile range in about 3 min. Would that be fast enough to catch a ballistic missile on its boost phase?
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Unread post13 Jan 2018, 11:26

citanon wrote:Sooo, scramjet engines are solid state.

- This suggests they might be difficult to design difficult to develop, but affordable to produce using 3d metal printing.

- Were this the case hypersonic missiles might be sufficiently affordable to field in significant numbers (though the need for liquid fuels might make logistics and operations more challenging and expensive).

However, let's say you can shrink these missiles down to the size of an air launched cruise missile and fit them with a seeker. Could they be used as long range boost phase interceptors in places like NK and Iran?

Assuming they go at 4200 mph, and need a 10 sec rocket boost to get up to speed. Then from launch they can cross 200 mile range in about 3 min. Would that be fast enough to catch a ballistic missile on its boost phase?


" The first two X-43A aircraft were intended for flight at approximately Mach 7, while the third was designed to operate at speeds greater than Mach 9.8/ 7,520 mph at altitudes of 98,400 ft or more. NASA flew a third version of the X-43A on November 16, 2004. The modified Pegasus rocket which was launched from a B-52 mother ship at an altitude of 43,166 ft. The X-43A set a new speed record of 6,598 mph, Mach 9.6 (220 miles in 2 minutes) at about 110,000 ft altitude, and further testing the ability of the vehicle to withstand the heat loads involved."
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