Skunk Works Exec Hints US Hypersonic Bomber Has "Already Been Made"

Last week we noted that  “hypersonic aircraft and missiles are being developed and tested by the United States, Russia, and China at an accelerating pace.” The race for hypersonic technologies has flourished among global superpowers, who realize that the first to possess these technologies will revolutionize their civilian and military programs.

Curiously, Lockheed Martin’s mysterious Skunk Works team might have just spilled the beans about a completed hypersonic aircraft ready to upgrade the long-retired Mach 3 SR-71 dubbed the “Son of Blackbird.”

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Jack O’Banion, Vice President of Strategy and Customer Requirements, Advanced Development Programs for Lockheed Martin, spoke at an aerospace conference last week, where he suggested that the hypersonic SR-72 aircraft might already exist.

While speaking at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics SciTech Forum, he presented a slide of a digital prototype of the hypersonic aircraft and stated, “ without the digital transformation” from new computing capabilities, the hypersonic aircraft could not have been developed.

“Without the digital transformation the aircraft you see there could not have been made,” O’Banion said, standing on stage. “In fact, five years ago, it could not have been made.”

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O’Banion harped on the fact that computer processing power and new computer-aided design software contributed to the new radical design of the scramjet engine.

We couldn’t have made the engine itself—it would have melted down into slag if we had tried to produce it five years ago,” O’Banion said.

“But now we can digitally print that engine with an incredibly sophisticated cooling system integral into the material of the engine itself, and have that engine survive for multiple firings for routine operation.” The aircraft is also agile at hypersonic speeds, with reliable engine starts, he said.

In the early 2000s, he added, developers “could not have even built it even if we conceived of it.”

Last week, Google Earth found a mysterious “hypersonic aircraft” in the swamps of Florida hiding at a secret airbase, which looks similar to the SR-72. Conveniently, Pratt & Whitney and Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation are located just a stone’s throw away from the hidden airbase housing the mysterious aircraft. Interesting to note, Pratt & Whitney manufactures the scramjet engine for the X-51A WaveRider hypersonic vehicle.

 

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Since the mysterious Skunk Works team resides in Palmdale, California, it is unlikely the hypersonic aircraft in Florida is the SR-72, but more related to the family of Falcon-Hypersonics.

 

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According to Bloomberg, executives at Skunk Works could not provide further knowledge that “Lockheed Martin is preparing to turn over to the Pentagon a top-secret hypersonic aircraft, nor does it reveal how far the project may have progressed.” It is still a mystery if the aircraft would even be manned or unnamed.

Further, Lockheed failed to confirm any of O’Banion’s comments. The aerospace defense contractor “continues to advance and test technologies which will benefit hypersonic flight,” spokeswoman Melissa Dalton said in an email.

“A Reusable Hypersonic System (RHS) is a far term solution that will be made possible by the path-finding work we are doing today,” she added.

This is not that first time the media has focused on Lockheed’s hypersonic program.

Rob Weiss, Lockheed Martin’s executive vice president and general manager for Advanced Development Programs, previously told Aviation Week.

We’ve been saying hypersonics is two years away for the last 20 years, but all I can say is the technology is mature and we, along with DARPA and the services, are working hard to get that capability into the hands of our warfighters as soon as possible… I can’t give you any timelines or any specifics on the capabilities. It is all very sensitive. Some of our adversaries are moving along these lines pretty quickly and it is important we stay quiet about what is going on. We can acknowledge the general capability that’s out there, but any program specifics are off limits.”  

Simply, Weiss alludes to the hypersonic technology as “mature,” which may indicate the United States is on the verge of a hypersonic revolution.

 

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Recently, Brad Leland, Lockheed’s program manager for Hypersonics outlines how hypersonic aircraft, coupled with hypersonic missiles could be the winning technique for the United States to stay relevant on the global stage.

“Hypersonic aircraft, coupled with hypersonic missiles, could penetrate denied airspace and strike at nearly any location across a continent in less than an hour… Speed is the next aviation advancement to counter emerging threats in the next several decades. The technology would be a game-changer in theater, similar to how stealth is changing the battlespace today.”   

And so the world races towards hypersonic aircraft and weapons before the next global conflict. The good news, for the US, is that Americans via the Lockheed’s hypersonic program appear to have taken a commanding lead. The only question is whether America's superpower opponents, China and Russia, has been successful in secretly developing their own version of this particular "golden grail" for airborne combat.

 

Comments

knukles Rick Cerone Wed, 01/17/2018 - 19:53 Permalink

Like Kelly Johnston used to say; "Technology 30 years in the future you haven't even imagined yet is utilized."
To wit:  Was recently announced some USAF fighters are to be equipped with lasers.  Hold the boat, power source?
Some time ago, the Skunk Works slipped announcing a miniature energy source, fusion or something or other, I forget, but it was ground breaking and reported but a few physics articles.  Tiny and massive power output.  Transportable. 
Golly gosh

In reply to by Rick Cerone

Beam Me Up Scotty knukles Wed, 01/17/2018 - 20:05 Permalink

So instead of dying in 30 minutes when the old ICBM's are launched we are ashes before we even know what hit us.  Thats probably not a bad way to go, all things considered.  Why is Hawaii wasting its time testing its EBS??  They won't have time to warn anyone, they will be dead before someone can fuck up and select the wrong choice.

Also, a miniature energy source, powered the Terminators didn't it?????

In reply to by knukles

SoDamnMad SeuMadruga Thu, 01/18/2018 - 01:30 Permalink

So this is where the missing trillions of dollars went the Pentagon can't put their fingers on. Project Aurora and these futuristic aircraft.   This guy going to a conference and saying that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns- the ones we don't know we don't know. Or some shit like that. Ask Donald Rumsfeld. He might know.

In reply to by SeuMadruga

MEFOBILLS Deep Snorkeler Wed, 01/17/2018 - 20:52 Permalink

The advanced aircraft division also said that it was getting close to starting full scale development of a flight research vehicle (FRV) that could be piloted or operated remotely. This FRV is expected to be about the size of an F-22 and use a full combined cycle propulsion system, according to Aviation Week.

 

http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/aviation/news/a28420/hypersoni…

 

Looks to be about the size of a F-22.  A combined cycle engine is turbo-ramjet up to about Mach 3, then scramjet beyond into hypersonic.

 

 

In reply to by Deep Snorkeler

RationalLuddite RafterManFMJ Wed, 01/17/2018 - 21:03 Permalink

Holy cow people - can't you spot a likely BS story when you see it?? Whether or not the US has made up ground (yes - they have repeatedly suggested tht they are very behind) or not i don't know.  But this account - with its implying but not simply stating, its CGI rather than 1 scrap of real world tech, its clear plausible deniability hedging - is textbook US MIC grey-to-black propaganda misinformation.

Moreover,  the convenient timing of the Google satellite reveal of a hypersonic looking 'thing' suggests straight pre-conditioning to reassure the sheeple that the US really is still ahead of the pack. FUD - fear, uncertainty,  distraction.  Reverse blockading to a golden mean. Whatever. This REEKS of BS like everything from unconventional oil making the US energy independent, to fiat magic money, to Tesla magic cars and rocket tech, to magic gas CO2 warming the globe, to etc etc.

 

Holy F***!  When did we become so credulous like little children? ?? The very agencies that are proven serial liers with recent abject failures to produce hypersonic aircraft.  Good luck to the US if they have as they must have made a huge leap foward recently. But the credulity given to  demonstrably practiced serial liers and gaslighters is frankly breathtaking and is at the root of so much of the west's sickness. 

https://sputniknews.com/military/201705291054102534-russia-us-china-hypersonic-race/

 

P.s i include a Sputnik link because it sumarises a few elements it is most convenient,  as most the US tests links are restricted to those with academic database dubscription access. I can't be assed finding the admission of hypersonic failure by the DoD in an interview from last year. If the US is behind, just honestly say it. I'm so triggered by the failure of grown men to simply show intelligent skepticism based on patterns of behavior and innuendo rather than evidence. 

In reply to by RafterManFMJ

JohninMK RationalLuddite Thu, 01/18/2018 - 06:09 Permalink

When this photo first hit the Web the general conclusion was that the object in Florida seems to be the test bed for the F-135 engine made by P&W just down the road and is used to test the engine's radar signature at a spot where the noise created would not be too much of a problem.

The F-135, as anyone who has seen the F-35 in the air, is a very noisy engine. Feel sorry for anyone living near a military airfield that is or will be hosting them.

In reply to by RationalLuddite

chubbar knukles Wed, 01/17/2018 - 20:07 Permalink

Ben Rich, CEO of Skunk works, circa 1991, in a talk he gave both to Caltech and MIT alumni, "We now have the ability to take ET home and it won't take a life time to do it". There were a few other quotes that are documented as being made. One was that this technology will never be released by the black budget programs as it's too disruptive.

In reply to by knukles

macholatte knukles Wed, 01/17/2018 - 20:09 Permalink

 

US Hypersonic Bomber Has "Already Been Made"

Of course it has! How else could the Chinks & Russkies get the plans?
You think they could design their own from scratch?
Espionage is much more cost effective than actual nuts & bolts R&D.

Bra ha ha ha

 

Corruption!
It’s what’s for breakfast!
– Hitlary Soetero

 

 

 

In reply to by knukles