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Old 12-12-2008, 04:57 AM   #1
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Top Secret Aircraft

Please continue discussion about Aircraft here - thanks -- j7

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Originally Posted by Tommycat View Post
Just so you know the top speed of the SR-71 is still classified(most likely TS SCI). Her top cruising altitude is also classified(also likely SCI). Any numbers you get are officially accepted numbers, but so far the maximum capabilities will be classified probably until I'm dead. A couple of very important things to note: It takes time to declassify the speed of an aircraft... Especially a high speed reconnaisance plane. Note that the speed record was beaten by just enough to hold the record.
I've read at least two books written by ex SR-71 pilots. True enough the listed maximum dash speed and altitude capabilities of the SR-71 remains classified (until something like 2021 iirc), however pilots were able to allude to approximations without being charged. Both said, "More than 3.3 Mach and higher than 100,000 feet had been achieved during missions." Also the world absolute speed record is averaged over 1000km as measured by ground stations, so the actual dash speed of an aircraft is always higher than this figure. It is ~likely~ the YF-12A (all prototypes fitted with 3x AIM-47 LRAAM internally and the AN/AWG-9 later inherited by the Tomcat to recover project costs...it was initially going to be inherited by the F-111 until Grumman won the Navy contract), had a dash capability of around 3.25 Mach and the SR-71 around 3.35 Mach. The A-12 was probably the fastest of the bunch with a dash capability (again purely speculation) of 3.4 Mach. I must point out, at these kind of speeds the slightest Mach increase led to tremendous increases in drag and airframe heating.

To make you feel better I should mention the MiG-25 had an airframe limit of 2.83 Mach and the P variant a top dash speed of 2.8 Mach, with an operational maximum speed of 2.35 Mach (in an almost vertical climb however). Pilots were speed limited to 2.5 Mach under normal conditions. When pressed to the airframe limits the very basic, if gigantic non-bypass engines had a habit of overspeeding.
The RB variant and later PB and PBS variants (1980's update), had uprated engines with vastly improved service life (about ten times), and a rated maximum dash speed of 2.83 Mach (ie. the airframe limit) with external ordinance up to and including a four ton bomb load for the RB precision bomber. Maximum cruise speed was 2.35 Mach with good economical figures (circa. 700km armed combat radius). Note that all Soviet performance figures are typically with either a full or half weapons load in contrast to US performance figures (the 2.5+ Mach F-15 for example, is actually more like the 1.8 Mach F-15 if you want to carry a full load of MRAAM and SRAAM missiles).

The Egyptian MiG-25R which was clocked at 3.2 Mach had actually burned out its engines and achieved this speed accidentally, due to a phenomenon especially common among "turbojet engines" known as "runaway rpm." The engines were completely destroyed upon landing and it never flew again.

In service, in the nuclear strike and strategic defence scenario, the MiG-25 fleet of interceptors would climb at 2.35 Mach. If need be any MiG-25 could arguably achieve speeds of up to 3 Mach, but it was reasonably likely the pilot and aircraft would not survive. That was the intention of this kind of defence strategy. But it would have been effective, this there is no denying. Through the 70's and 80's they could catch and down any nuclear capable cruise missile in service, which was part of their design specification. As mentioned the rest of the time they were officially speed limited to 2.5 Mach.

Quote:
Not saying she was a perfect aircraft. Heck it took a buick engine just to get the thing started. She'd drip fuel on the tarmac and had no ability to have guns(it was tried and the thing shot herself down) or external armaments(again tried, but made her too unstable). She had a turn radius larger than the Sea of Japan at cruising speed. But she wasn't designed as a fighter. She was designed as a high altitude recon plane. Which sadly(or maybe not so sadly) that job has been taken over by UAV's and Satelites.
The SR-71 which desintegrated mid-flight did not shoot itself down, it was trying to launch a remote piloted Mach 4+ reconnaissance drone, an experimental idea for the Blackbird to carry one of these "piggy-backed." It was a failure, obviously and the idea was withdrawn.
Blackbirds had no problem with weapons systems. The YF-12A successfully fired the AIM-47 (an earlier version of the AIM-54 Pheonix) several times. I have a photograph of one being fired. By this stage however, program complexity and costs had already cancelled the proposal, along with the bombing facility that was to be given the SR-71 and NASA stepped in to continue aerospace testing and help recover the tremendous funding spent so far. The same thing which happened to the Valkyrie project essentially befell the Blackbird, except that the SR-71 continued into limited production for joint USAF/CIA intelligence gathering (since their A-12 fleet had already been handed over to the various Blackbird projects for the Air Force). This move also dealt with a serious concern about the development of the CIA as a politically independent powerbase (ie. a not necessarily democratic powerbase, not necessarily subject to the US administration of the day, scary scary).
It was program and mission costs which killed the Blackbird as a military warplane, not its capabilities as a genuine (extreme performance) warplane. Clarence "Kelly" Johnson said in an interview I watched, it was the biggest mistake ever made by the USAF. He thinks a dramatic advantage was handed to Russian airframe engineers by deciding upon the (still current) USAF doctrine of extreme transonic performance over and above supersonic capabilities.
He was also the man who developed the Stealth fighter technology which has since been translated onto both the F-35 and F-22. He says it was a mistake, but was happy to be paid even so.

Keep in mind the failings of the MiG-25 were largely rectified in the MiG-31, by the same token a 1990 derivative of a Blackbird which had entered production instead of the F-15 back in 1973, might've similarly solved some of its manoeuvrability and other technical issues (notably engine design, whilst exceptional and unmatched was prone to flameouts during turns, on top of that aircraft-carrier nimbleness in turning circle you described). But it is as equally possible to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the entire US economy would've collapsed with this addition to all the other defence and technology development funding (like the manned space program). I mean when I say expensive, I'm talking thousands of billions of dollars for this one project, plus unit cost (all titanium...), plus mission costs (NASA ground stations requisitioned...).



Hmm, let me say this. For some years now an open challenge by the Russian defence administration has been tendered for any US warplane to front at any international airshow in view of the public and match Flanker performance. And I'm not talking about the 1990 Cobra manoeuvre, that's old hat (and has only just been matched by the F-22), but I mean taking four tons of external ordinance from a cold runway start to 40,000 feet in 1 min 55 seconds and flipping over yourself to fire missiles backwards.
The challenge has thus far gone unanswered...though admitedly the export models of the Flanker aren't the vectoring thrust units with the upgraded Soyuz (Mach 3 rated) engines.

But as has always been the case, US planes going up against export Russian warbirds is one hell of a totally different thing to going up against Russia. And these days they will now sell the best...if you've got the ready cash.

Last edited by jonathan7; 12-12-2008 at 06:07 PM.
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Old 12-12-2008, 06:30 AM   #2
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My bad, I'm still going with the limited data I had access to. I could have sworn though that at one was shot down by it's own guns. Though your drone explanation makes more sense as the airflow over the drone and the Blackbird being disrupted in such a manner would equal two very unstable aircraft.

I thought I remembered something about the internal missiles, however I wasn't sure it was the Blackbird.

I do wish they had continued the supersonic research, but at the same time I'm glad the blackbirds were grounded.

I will say that I'm pretty sure they have a faster plane. I heard rumors about one that was significantly faster back in the day(this was better than 15 years ago). One that made the blackbird look like it was standing still. Though I will admit that it could be of course just rumors... or that it was scrapped because of our squishy pilots.
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Old 12-12-2008, 07:54 AM   #3
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I'm not sure but just guessing I'd say you mean the X-15 rocket plane. That was the one NASA used to prepare USAF pilots for the astronaut program, and it was still up in the air at that time whether and what might wind up in service production as warplanes.

Like I've spent a bit of effort trying to outline, it was a pretty hairy time back then. Nobody really knew within a shadow of a doubt what the other side was truly capable of, where the advances in aerospace technologies might lead and who'd get them first. As it was real life was fast becoming everything you'd read about in science fiction and nobody could say just where or when that would end. Conspiracy theorists were even suggesting the Russians were involved with extra-terrestrial intelligence.


Mate, I'm not a feller who likes to go around starting arguments. Hate 'em myself, just gives all sorts of silly stress for nothing. But I can't help thinking all these modern impressions of US military superiority is more than half a case of kids not listening properly to their parents, and failing to bother researching primary sources of the last hundred years world history.
You know song lyrics like, "don't believe the hype," yeah they're streetwise dudes talking about what I'm trying to say and not the television

Last edited by vanir; 12-12-2008 at 08:33 AM. Reason: added a bit at the end
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Old 12-12-2008, 04:47 PM   #4
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I think that Tommycat is talking about Aurora, the existence of which has never been confirmed.


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Old 12-12-2008, 05:49 PM   #5
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I think that Tommycat is talking about Aurora, the existence of which has never been confirmed.
I have seen only one actual photo of the Aurora, and Wiki's version is in no way acurate. It looks similar to the B-2 Spirit: Stealth Bomber; however, the wings are thicker and more end rounded. It's legnth is also the same as the B-2. X-33 and Venture Star's engine design was inspired by Aurora's; thus, Lockheed Martin was ordered by the military to stop the X-33's development. Its was a Lockheed slip up.
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Old 12-12-2008, 05:18 PM   #6
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Oh I've seen that before...iirc it was also the name given to a hypersonic suborbital passenger scramjet proposal that was tossed around NASA once or twice, but never seriously considered. The main theme centred around a lift body powered by a set of take off engines (low-bypass turbofans), plus a set of high speed engines (basic scramjets). The same design again was a proposal for a Space Shuttle replacement (X-30) which was cancelled in 1993 despite US$2.7b/93 being spent on development so far.

Part of the reasoning of conspiracy theorists is probably that money spent (believing it must have gone somewhere other than lining pockets, obviously they don't know the system very well), and all the testing done. The hydrogen cooled structure was wind tunnel tested to 16 Mach, scale models flown to 4 Mach and 8 Mach and engine components tested under conditions simulating 18 Mach.

One of the prohibitive problems discovered as the scale models increased in size was the sheer amount on ascent heating: which was more than the Space Shuttle on descent!
The entire program apparently became an interesting side project in engine development and research, but no genuine aerospace proposal. One of the reasons cited was the sheer cost and complexity to develop a single demonstrator (ie. inventing new materials to construct it with).

Officially speaking the three SR-71 Blackbirds that were bought from the Air Force by NASA (1991) were for the purposes of component research in the X-30 project. This would also fund conspiracy theorists as to what was being developed (a spyplane instead of a shuttle replacement).

Final point would be of course, even the F-117 and B-2 were never any kind of secret. You just weren't to go near them and there weren't any pictures floating about, but it was department heads, project members and industry and military personnel who were speaking about them openly from pretty much day one. I mean it's a little hard to hide Project Blue when it's being handed out to every civilian contractor out there (Lockheed, Mc Donnel Douglas, etc.). I've got structure and avionics details in my '94 Janes.
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Old 12-12-2008, 05:52 PM   #7
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You know, it's kind've interesting, but we know the Aurora exists, but yet it denies existence. It's like how we know there is a NSA, a National Security Agency, but if you look it up, it'll come up with "No Such Agency." So, in this case, the Aurora, we don't have much confirmation on its existence, but we're very sure it does. We best be careful what we say....


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Old 12-12-2008, 05:59 PM   #8
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You know, it's kind've interesting, but we know the Aurora exists, but yet it denies existence. It's like how we know there is a NSA, a National Security Agency, but if you look it up, it'll come up with "No Such Agency." So, in this case, the Aurora, we don't have much confirmation on its existence, but we're very sure it does. We best be careful what we say....
You can find information on the actual Aurora in your library. You need to search aviation articles that date back to the 1980s. Microphish articles to be exact. On the tv-show sightings in the 1990s, there was a ten second glimps of the craft. It's engine design and alloy is black ops secret.

Edit - Sorry J7 I didn't see your post.

No worries, I can see who's typing posts as I am Let me know if you guys want a separate topic in Kavars main about this. -- j7
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Old 12-12-2008, 06:33 PM   #9
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You know, it's kind've interesting, but we know the Aurora exists, but yet it denies existence. It's like how we know there is a NSA, a National Security Agency, but if you look it up, it'll come up with "No Such Agency." So, in this case, the Aurora, we don't have much confirmation on its existence, but we're very sure it does. We best be careful what we say....
Umm, sorry?

No, the Aurora does not exist. Or, rather, it was a concept that was never built.

Why? Because we don't need spy planes anymore. The reason the Blackbird was retired was because we have satellites that can zoom down to look at your ****ing face.

We didn't need the Blackbird to spy anymore, so we put it down and placed money into projects like the F-22 Raptor.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yar-El
You can find information on the actual Aurora in your library. You need to search aviation articles that date back to the 1980s. Microphish articles to be exact. On the tv-show sightings in the 1990s, there was a ten second glimps of the craft. It's engine design and alloy is black ops secret.
There are no such pictures.

There is a concept art picture that was created, but all the pictures you see are photoshopped or from airplane simulators.

It is too risky to fly these expensive craft into enemy airspace to spy. This is why we have both satilites and un-manned craft.

The money is in remote piloting. If the Aurora did exist, then it has been retired as well in favor of things like the Predator.

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Originally Posted by Yar-El
I don't know how someone found it, but here is the actual design -
Nice Try.

That is a photo from a simulator, as are all the other photos.

We don't need the plane, and haven't for nearly 20 years.

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Originally Posted by =Yar-El
DARPA and Lockheed are very closed mouthed about this project. Stealth Bombers were recently revealed in the 1990s. I wanted to be a Samantha Carter.
No, they aren't because it either doesn't exist or was a failed prototype.

And, again, stealth bombers were no secret for all of the Cold War. We needed bombers then, and we were in an arms race with Russia.

We do not, however, need manned stealth reconnaissance planes anymore.

Quote:
Originally Posted by =Yar-El
Here is the B-2 Spirit top. You can see the similarities.
Ok, before you talk anymore you need to realize this:

A stealth reconnaissance plane is NOT A BOMBER.

Why do they look similar? Because people assume thats what its supposed to look like. But the truth is, our bombers are stealth, fine, and still in use and can actually still be used to spy.

In fact, our best stealth plane currently isn't even a bomber. Its a Jet. The F-22 Raptor. That thing could easily look over an area, or take out a target over the circumference of the globe without ever being spotted.

This thread is sooo tin hat. Aurora nowadays is just a word for "secret plane", which there are dozens if being made at a time. The majority of them are failures, so it is very, very possible that your supposed Aurora doesn't exist, or just simply never saw much use.

And, again..

We have satellites and the Predator. We don't need them anymore.
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Old 12-12-2008, 06:02 PM   #10
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* I think if we're going to continue the top-secret airplane conversation, perhaps we should speak to J7, what do you think we should do?*

True, there have been sightings of such an aircraft, probably an accident on Black Ops' part, but if they were seriously trying to keep it secret, there would've been alot of arrests taking place. So, it's Black Ops, but not well...super-black ops

So, does this contribute to how insular we are about security?


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Old 12-12-2008, 06:11 PM   #11
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* I think if we're going to continue the top-secret airplane conversation, perhaps we should speak to J7, what do you think we should do?*

True, there have been sightings of such an aircraft, probably an accident on Black Ops' part, but if they were seriously trying to keep it secret, there would've been alot of arrests taking place. So, it's Black Ops, but not well...super-black ops

So, does this contribute to how insular we are about security?
DARPA and Lockheed are very closed mouthed about this project. Stealth Bombers were recently revealed in the 1990s. I wanted to be a Samantha Carter.

I don't know how someone found it, but here is a very close design -


Here is the B-2 Spirit top. You can see the similarities.

Last edited by Yar-El; 12-12-2008 at 06:26 PM.
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Old 12-12-2008, 07:06 PM   #12
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Quote:
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True, there have been sightings of such an aircraft, probably an accident on Black Ops' part, but if they were seriously trying to keep it secret, there would've been alot of arrests taking place. So, it's Black Ops, but not well...super-black ops
Black ops are (almost) never leaked 'on accident'. It's either leaked by the gov't as a strategic move ('Hey, Russia, check out our Boss plane that cen fly over your country without you ever knowing it, so watch out'), or it's leaked by someone who's spying. While no one's perfect, the people who reach black ops security levels know how to keep their mouths shut and -not- have such accidents.


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Old 12-12-2008, 06:27 PM   #13
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Wow. That's an amazing picture, haven't seen that one before. It'd be one scary moment to see that flying near you, I wouldn't want to be the enemy. I think the Government should probably begin designs for something newer, though, you know, alot of these things are probably a bit older, probably built before the 90's I'd think. But that design is just so aggresive in its attack style, you could say. Definately amazing, I wonder how Black Ops likes this handiwork?


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Old 12-12-2008, 06:32 PM   #14
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Here is their sister the Hopeless Diamond -
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Old 12-12-2008, 06:43 PM   #15
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<snipped>

SR-71 stopped receiving funding due to the plane's costs. Aurora is still being funded today. Our military X-planes are being heavily tested and developed, and we are in full mode for the development of some stuff you wouldn't believe. The Predator is a baby.

Some old stuff -


X-45A - http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/r...45A/index.html

Last edited by jonathan7; 12-13-2008 at 06:03 PM. Reason: Removed baiting comment - j7
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Old 12-12-2008, 06:55 PM   #16
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SR-71 stopped receiving funding due to the plane's costs.
That was partially the cause, but there's no doubt that the main reason why it was discontinued was due to the fact that satellites systems and whatnot made it obsolete.
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Aurora is still being funded today.
Unless if there's proof to back this up, the Aurora is simply a myth. Now, there might be some "secret" projects that we don't about, but there's no way to even know that Aurora is is even in development.

I should also mention that the U.S. military spending is so high now that we don't even need to spend any money in R&D, since they already have more than enough technology to obliterate a small country in thirty minutes.
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Old 12-12-2008, 07:00 PM   #17
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That was partially the cause, but there's no doubt that the main reason why it was discontinued was due to the fact that satellites systems and whatnot made it obsolete.
It was also obsolete due to its maneuvering issues. Other crafts showed more flexability in defensive fighting. Cost was the major issue.

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Unless if there's proof to back this up, the Aurora is simply a myth. Now, there might be some "secret" projects that we don't about, but there's no way to even know that Aurora is is even in development.
You won't get those details anytime soon.
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Old 12-12-2008, 07:03 PM   #18
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You won't get those details anytime soon.
That was my original point. There's no way for anyone to inherently proof nor disprove Aurora's existence.
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Old 12-13-2008, 06:13 AM   #19
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They found that their prototypes were failing. Why? They didn't know either.

They ended up finding out that at those speeds, the plane actually stretches a few inches. The strain on a normal plane body would rip it apart, so they streamlined the design in order to give the plane the ability to grow in the air as it reached high speeds.
Spoken like someone that doesn't know what they did to fix it. The craft did not grow at high speeds. The fitment was adjusted such that when the craft heated it sealed together. Until it was heated, the thing would drip like crazy. Left a lot of JP10 on the tarmac.

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And a bomb/missile payload would be just as much of a problem on the Aurora as it would on the SR-71.
YF-12A(SR-71) payload area

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The fact is, the SR-71 was not given weapons for a reason, and it was retired because it was outdated. It wouldn't be logical or cost effective to retire working SR-71's in order to make an even more expensive, experimental craft to fill the same outdated role.
Logical? Cost Effective? You sure you're talking about the same military that spends $45 on a hammer that you can get from Sears for $15?
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Old 12-13-2008, 06:16 PM   #20
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Logical? Cost Effective? You sure you're talking about the same military that spends $45 on a hammer that you can get from Sears for $15?
This is way out of proportion. The US had equipped four Iowa-class battleships with modern-day weapons and equipment for a huge sum of treasury. Why, after spending so much on their refitting, were they decommissioned?

Answer: They were expensive to operate and really had little practical use, even as symbols of the US military. There is a significant difference between capital and operational costs. The RS-71 is a perfect example of this. None are flying today. The U2, which is older and less capable, still have a place because of how much cheaper they are to fly, although not part of the military anymore.

The whole purpose of the F-35 development was to provide a cheaper alternative to the painfully expensive F-22 Raptor. In addition, they are still upgrading F-15's and F-16's, despite being no match for a generation five fighter like the F-22.

The US military may spend lavishly, but they don't just squander money with no concern for where it goes. Even they have a budget that must be managed.

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Old 12-13-2008, 07:52 PM   #21
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Spoken like someone that doesn't know what they did to fix it. The craft did not grow at high speeds. The fitment was adjusted such that when the craft heated it sealed together. Until it was heated, the thing would drip like crazy. Left a lot of JP10 on the tarmac.
To allow for thermal expansion at the high operational temperatures the fuselage panels were manufactured to fit only loosely on the ground. Proper alignment was only achieved when the airframe warmed up due to air resistance at high speeds, causing the airframe to expand several inches. Because of this, and the lack of a fuel sealing system that could handle the extreme temperatures, the aircraft would leak JP-7 jet fuel onto the runway before it took off. The aircraft would quickly make a short sprint, meant to warm up the airframe, and was then refueled in the air before departing on its mission. Cooling was carried out by cycling fuel behind the titanium surfaces at the front of the wings (chines). On landing after a mission the canopy temperature was over 300 °C (572 °F), too hot to approach. Non-fibrous asbestos with high heat tolerance was used in high-temperature areas.

I think we were saying the same thing in different words. Sorry if I spoke too generally.

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Originally Posted by Tommycat
YF-12A(SR-71) payload area
The YF and SR are two different planes. One was the prototype, and the other was the actual plane.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_YF-12
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SR-71_Blackbird
http://www.aerospaceweb.org/aircraft/recon/sr71/

The SR-71 held no missiles, and had no guns. It was not equipped with bays for either. It was a "stealth" reconnaissance plane. It used its speed and ability to stay hidden to avoid danger, not weapons.

If the Aurora was trying to fill its place, it would also have no weapons equipped I imagine. Although, I don't know, because the plane does not exist.

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Logical? Cost Effective? You sure you're talking about the same military that spends $45 on a hammer that you can get from Sears for $15?
The military still has a budget, and there has to be a payback for that spending. They may spend lavishly, but they don't often spend wastefully.

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Old 12-12-2008, 06:52 PM   #22
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So what if we don't need spy planes, True Avery?!

That thing could be super-effective in bombing runs, deep into enemy territory. Of course, the bomb aiming system would have to be modified greatly, and the pilots put through the hardest of training, but it'd be worth it. An aircraft like the Aurora would have the ability to drop a nuke, and nobody would ever, ever, know. If it moves as fast asthey want it, too, sending in a strike force to handle big problems would be a thing of the past {armies will still be needed, no matter what, soldiers too. Just really big problems that contain only the enemy and are very big, could be handled easily} This could be an excellent counter-strike weapon, if it is ever finished. We won't need bomber aircraft period if we finish the global artillery satellite {not actually the name, but this satellite will have the ability to nuke or attack any point on the planet from its space position} Of course, before our country uses such weapons, we should probably get out of debt


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Old 12-12-2008, 07:17 PM   #23
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Well, Jae, the Black Ops area of security definately knows how to keep its mouth shut and it would seem that there is no use for a leak of this sort. Though, there is one thing, even Black Ops makes mistakes. I cannot provide information on what mistakes, but they do, as you said, no ones perfect. I notice that our country does have a tendency to flash secret or new weapons about. This is probably irrelevant, but television has started numerous shows on our many different weapons that will totally rule the battlefield. I don't think thats the wisest of decisions, but then again, nobody has really come up with better technology than the U.S. Well, they might've, but not without copying a direct design{Russians did that alot}.

But I agree with what you said on the Black Ops for sure, I was probably a bit wrong on what I said concerning "super" black ops {perhaps very wrong}.


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Old 12-12-2008, 07:25 PM   #24
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Well, Jae, the Black Ops area of security definately knows how to keep its mouth shut and it would seem that there is no use for a leak of this sort. Though, there is one thing, even Black Ops makes mistakes. I cannot provide information on what mistakes, but they do, as you said, no ones perfect. I notice that our country does have a tendency to flash secret or new weapons about. This is probably irrelevant, but television has started numerous shows on our many different weapons that will totally rule the battlefield. I don't think thats the wisest of decisions, but then again, nobody has really come up with better technology than the U.S. Well, they might've, but not without copying a direct design{Russians did that alot}.

But I agree with what you said on the Black Ops for sure, I was probably a bit wrong on what I said concerning "super" black ops {perhaps very wrong}.
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That was my original point. There's no way for anyone to inherently proof nor disprove Aurora's existence.
I restated what you said? Sorry Pastrami.
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Old 12-12-2008, 08:56 PM   #25
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Oops haha guess I opened up a whole nuther discussion.

I know more, but I am not sure what parts are classified and what parts aren't(nothing I personally worked on, because I was too young haha). I will say that we already know of the new prototype scramjet which NASA tested. It far exceeded the speed of the SR-71's official recorded speed. That was at least ten years later than I had expected to see it.
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Old 12-12-2008, 09:19 PM   #26
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In fact, our best stealth plane currently isn't even a bomber. Its a Jet. The F-22 Raptor.
I'm assuming you meant fighter, right? Either way, you're incorrect. AFAIK the B-2 is currently the most stealthy aircraft in our inventory. The F-22 is designed to be stealthy, yes, but making it as stealthy as the B-2 with the technology that was available at the time (the design is ~20 years old) would have compromised its performance to an unacceptable degree. Its design is therefore a compromise between stealth and performance whereas the B-2's design goes all-out for stealth.


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Old 12-12-2008, 09:37 PM   #27
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I'm assuming you meant fighter, right? Either way, you're incorrect. AFAIK the B-2 is currently the most stealthy aircraft in our inventory. The F-22 is designed to be stealthy, yes, but making it as stealthy as the B-2 with the technology that was available at the time (the design is ~20 years old) would have compromised its performance to an unacceptable degree. Its design is therefore a compromise between stealth and performance whereas the B-2's design goes all-out for stealth.
This is true, but I have to tell you that both of these aircraft have extremely low radar signautures and I have read somewhere that it is rumored that the B-2's radar signature is roughly that of an aluminum marble & the F-22's is roughly the same.

The most likely reason that this is is because of the tail. It is not currently possible to elimanate the tail on the Raptor completely because of its maneuverability. There are trade-offs that must be made because both of these fine aircraft have different functions. Other stealth parameters such as the buried engine and weapons bay, platform alignment are taken care of in the Raptor. It is all about cross-sections

So the F-22 Raptor is the most stealthy fighter in the US inventory, but overall the B-2 takes the cake.

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Old 12-12-2008, 10:24 PM   #28
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Something that most people don't really consider about aircraft that fly mach 3+ is the extreme friction that comes from such speeds. Surprisingly, the reason why the Mig 25 could reach mach 3 and the F-15 could not was because it sacrificed the fighter-like characteristics to tolerate the extreme speed and heat caused at such velocities.

Odds are that the F-22 doesn't top the Mig-25 or even the F-15 in raw speed because the stealth-characteristics would be traded off. One thing about aircraft such as the RS-71 and the B-1b that few emphasize is that they both are not true stealth aircraft, but have an excellent balance between speed and agility with a reduced radar cross-section. I think that the B-1b is a better bomber than the B-2 because it compensates for true stealth with speed and electronic countermeasures. It's cheaper too.

The RS-71 was a remarkable aircraft, but it costs roughly $200,000 an hour to operate. It simply isn't practical anymore because of satellite imagery becoming better. Odds are that there would never have been a better replacement for the blackbird because there was no practical use for it in any retrospect.
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Old 12-13-2008, 07:25 PM   #29
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Many erroneous assumptions are funded by commerical publications. Physics and engineering sources are always best when examining "secret projects, Black Ops and X-planes." Often they have more accurate appraisals of even current front line models than the manufacturer and officially released data, which can be confirmed easily by pilots.

First point of the day, there was never any such thing as stealth technology. Ever. It's a complete misnomer, part misunderstanding and part disinformation.

Kelly Johnson wanted to add a high survivability feature to his titanium A-12 back in the 60's because it was flying over Soviet airspace and common air defence technologies were improving. With the so-called "radar-absorptive paint" the illusion of Stealth and the name Blackbird was born. Later it was Kelly Johnson who was one of the first invited to place proposals before DARPA for what became the Have Blue project, given unsolicited in 1975 whilst Northrop was later invited to compete for a bid (tendered 1976). This evolved into the F-117 and the B-2 Spirit aside (which has other design emphasis than the "Stealth Fighter"), was the foundation of modern "Stealth features" common to all current US fighter development.

Okay so first thing. Stealth isn't stealth. It's what dumb politicians call something they never even slightly understood or tried to.
High survivability has nothing to do with stealth. Considering any modern battlefield is likely to be in an urban environment with common technological parity and digital telecommunications, it is completely ridiculous to assume any large object with big loud engines is going to fly around the place and nobody is going to notice it.
During the Gulf War it was a civilian technician who happened to notice he could track the F-117 by following gaps in mobile phone coverage for the areas in which it was operating. So long as one assumed these gaps were the F-117 it was perfectly easy to track them, so naturally he informed the present authorities. It wasn't however a concern, and here's why.
Stealth isn't stealth. Has nothing to do with it, etc. (am I repeating myself?).

High survivability technologies such as (falsely named) stealth features, are not designed in the slightest to make an aircraft invisible. They're designed to stop relatively small and simple devices, like missile seeker heads and mobile defence platforms, from locking onto the aircraft.

The F-117 is actually very, very easy to pick up by other aircraft. The thing it does is bounces active signals all over the place around itself (everywhere but back to the missile seeker/receiver), so it interferes with radios, television sets, mobile phone towers, these things associated with the rather unmistakable sound of low flying jet engines in the night, and remote datalink technologies like those used by Russian fighters (in CIS service), work like a bunch of mobile phone towers spread across the squadron.

Detecting the F-117 is easy. Targeting it with a dedicated air superiority platform like the Flanker is easy. Whilst the aircraft firing missiles at it might not see its radar image (confused with ground clutter and birds by the electronics translation), the thing is all his squadron mates to which he is datalinked, who are spread over the surrounding forty kilometres, do and quite clearly. He can use their avionics information to fire his weapons (a common feature of top line Russian fighters like the Flanker and Foxhound).

What it is really, really hard to do with an F-117 is fire a typical SAM, commonly available AAM's or use mobile air defences and think for a second their seeker heads or ground antenna are even going to know it's there. In fact the first thing a poorly coordinated target area is going to know about the approach of an F-117 is when the GBU explodes.

So stealth technology is more correctly referred to as high survivability features, and this doctrine encompass an entire breadth of technologies currently used in modern warplane design. The high transonic performance doctrine of US warplanes for example is also part of the high survivability feature first incorporated in the F-15 (X-Fighter project of 1965), even though this is often at the cost of high supersonic performance (though at a lot of expense retains a high supersonic dash performance flying clean).

You might even say, US aerial combat doctrine is high survivability, where Soviet was (during the Cold War) high performance, and now Russian designs incorporate some high survivability features. This is an entirely different impression from actual aerospace development projects, which were very high performance in the US and somewhat rather conservative by comparison in the USSR (the Ye-155 record breakers were in no way as complex or expensive as a Blackbird or X-15, but on the other hand neither of these US vehicles could ever seriously be considered for mass production and widespread service).


Another major consideration. Black Ops, Skunkworks and similar terms are largely a bit of industry tongue in cheek that have more connotations in fiction and commercial media than reality. The last time there were any truly Black Ops and genuinely secretive projects in the United States was back in 1963 with secret funding for CIA projects and this was legislated against due to domestic political concerns (eg. a government within the government). Any so called "Black projects" from the SR-71 to the B-2 or the defunct Aurora project (X-30 in point of fact, cancelled in 1993) have been openly tendered among domestic industry, with technological components provided by domestic industry and whilst performance specifications and operating procedures remain strictly classified, construction details are widely available under public acccess of information and any Aeronautical Engineer can easily speculate within an extreme voracity those details not officially published. You can't defy physics, that's the simple rule.

The F-35 for example, cannot breach 1.8 Mach due to engine inlet design and supersonic shock. The DOD doesn't need to publish its maximum performance figures, they're obvious anyway. It mostly works upon those lines, therefore physics and engineering sources are the best locations to research realistic data for any models in service. Manufacturer released data is...let's just say liberal considering contracts are won by competition.


So. Stealth is a bit of fiction. And Black Ops is also modern fiction.


...which brings us to the B-2. Bombers use a different doctrine (including the F-22 used in the proposed penetration strike role). High survivability remains a primary feature but the centre of design revolves around deep penetration. Whilst high survivability concentrates on foiling active and passive signal reception for a concentrated weapons targeting system, Deep Penetration concentrates on ECM and interfering with wide band defence interception networks, like the Russian GCI and common microwave aerial defence networks. Once again it is difficult to target by many weapons systems, though certainly not impossible and it is most definitely not altogether too difficult to detect...that being said it is also extremely good at making a satellite think it is actually about two hundred metres off its own starboard wing...it's especially good at defeating remote strategic defence networks.
You might know they're coming, you might even know where they are, but it's real hard to know precisely where they are unless you've got modern interceptors in the air and it's also real good at interfering with most of their avionics and weapon guidence systems.
Of course modern Russian warplanes like the Flanker and Foxhound again, have a tremendous breadth of very powerful avionics and weapons guidence systems, in some cases not the most advanced in existence but extremely powerful and extremely comprehensive nonetheless. The Foxhound radar is so powerful it can target the rear hemisphere on sheer signal strength. All Flankers and Fulcrums have tremendously powerful IRST sensors with helmet links, whilst the Flankers have the remote datalink facility for all avionics and so on.


The truth is high survivability features are most effective against the current Middle Eastern stockpile of 70's and 80's Soviet export equipment, which is downgraded to begin with.

So called stealth features, the F-22 and F-35 were really designed for international policing operations in coordination with UN concerns, rather than one-on-one global scale warfare. In this environment, such as dealing with Iraq and Iran in the Middle East, Afghanistan, rogue Soviet states and to some extent North Korea and the potential for Chinese destabilisation, they are every bit as effective as what you see in the movies.

But it only goes that far. Let's say Russia went psycho. Do not believe for one second the US is not in immediate, genuinely serious circumstances, with extreme concerns towards defensive doctrine effectiveness. Many knowledgable individuals like Kelly Johnson believe incontrovertible, immense mistakes have already been made and are still being presented as a success by greedy beancounters and ignorant baby-kissers.
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Old 12-13-2008, 08:34 PM   #30
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Some more corrections for prosperity.
Quote:
The craft did not grow at high speeds.
Yes it did, quite literally. At high Mach the airframe length actually increased quite dramatically, several inches and up to a foot iirc. This is in addition to the panelling gaps closing up, which was a necessary feature due to the difficulties of working with titanium alloys.

Quote:
The YF and SR are two different planes. One was the prototype, and the other was the actual plane.
The YF-12 and SR-71 are both derivatives of the A-12 Blackbird, which is a single seater (a piggyback two seat pilot trainer was also built).
The A-12 was in service in 1963 (possibly sooner) independently of the DOD, with the CIA. The Air Force wanted an interceptor derivative and were toying with the idea of a reconnaissance-bomber too. Kelly Johnson went ahead with both projects. One developed into the single seater YF-12 (basically an A-12 with a Tomcat weapon system fitted). The other developed into the two-seat SR-71 (new airframe cockpit area) for which the bombing facility was never finally incorporated, though Kelly wanted to the DOD decided the Mach 3 projects were never going to be used as armed warplanes due to improving Soviet defence networks. He did however design the SR-71 so that a bombing facility could be added at any time, this has just never been utilised.

The YF-12 is not a prototype for the SR-71, but was a preproduction prototype series (3 built iirc) for the F-12A Mach 3 interceptor project (cancelled 1965). The SR-71 was going to be a precision bomber with a reconnaissance feature (most bombers at the time were also used as reconnaissance aircraft). The original A-12 was a reconnaissance plane.
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Old 12-13-2008, 10:26 PM   #31
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Originally the SR-71(actually A-12) was being built under the designation B-71. However the bomber capabilities never materialized past the mockup stage. There were several derivatives of the Blackbird. B-71(none built) A-12, M-21(2 built), YF-12(3 built), SR(strategic reconnaissance)-71(more than 1 less than 100 built ). The provision for the bomb bays was available on the SR-71, however that area was filled with recording equipment. LOTS and LOTS of recording equipment.

The SR-71 became more expensive than it was worth when the US and Soviet Union signed an agreement prohibiting manned flyovers of the USSR. Incedentally, that is what caused the development of the M-21 and D-21(recon drone).
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Old 12-13-2008, 10:35 PM   #32
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I must say I'm surprised that there are still many classified features about this retired aircraft. It makes sense for one in service to be unknown, but once it's retired, it really doesn't matter.

What is so significant about people knowing how fast or high the blackbird has reached? It's not like another one will be on the drawing boards in the future, so why keep everything shrouded in secrecy?
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Old 12-13-2008, 10:39 PM   #33
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I must say I'm surprised that there are still many classified features about this retired aircraft. It makes sense for one in service to be unknown, but once it's retired, it really doesn't matter.

What is so significant about people knowing how fast or high the blackbird has reached? It's not like another one will be on the drawing boards in the future, so why keep everything shrouded in secrecy?
That is the military for ya.

Probably because they don't want their enemies to get their hands on stealth technology, and somehow implement it into other fighters, or create their own stealth aircraft. That is what I am thinking...

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Old 12-13-2008, 10:42 PM   #34
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Some of the craft could also be in use. Maybe the engine elements are used in other machines.
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Old 12-13-2008, 11:48 PM   #35
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The J-79 high bleed, low bypass turbojets aren't used in anything else, but were indeed an interesting engine development platform. It was never capitalised on however with the limited nature of the Blackbird projects and the new Air Force doctrine of high transonic performance. Probably the most exciting engine development since the J-79 has been the supercruise of the F-119. Meanwhile the 80's Aviadvigatel D30 from Russia is rated for a 2.83 Mach cruise at 36,000 feet and 1.25 Mach at sea level (20,000-41,000lbs st rated thrust on the bench). The Saturn-Lyulka and Soyuz-Kobchyenko (a very old vectoring turbofan from the '60s, revamped to power the new Berkut) engines just get better, and have been in production since the '90s with vectoring thrust, Mach 3 ratings and average 35,000lbs st and up in a fighter sized package (underestimating Russian technology is just about the dumbest thing in the world to do, they got a bad rep from detuned and downgraded export versions sold to Asia and the Middle East which fought the latest US front line warplanes like the F-4 and F-15 since the '70s, add about ten years development, weapons and avionics technology for any warplane in actual Russian service, wrt any given model).

I can't say it enough, this is one point so very irresponsibly handled by media and terribly dealt with by commercial publication (as opposed to industry papers and strict academic sources). Russian military technology is every bit as tough as US gear on any day of the week, in any era. Given the right circumstances, Russian equipment will dominate US stuff just as easily as US stuff will dominate Russian in another set of circumstances. Even today. In Australia we deal with the fact Indonesia is a Muslim government, we've been stealing their oil, calling it ours and selling it back to them, and they've been arming up with Flankers and Fulcrums whilst we've been stuck with that pile of dog poo F-35 for a Hornet replacement...every day. We're buggered sometime real soon and we know it (looking forward to a US flag over Parliament house cashing in on new defence treaties).



Probably the major reason for the classified nature of the Blackbird projects is legal ramifications. You can't even admit today that you broke the law yesterday, or else you are then liable for having broken the law. SR-71 pilots were recruited from the Air Force but officially discharged upon entering the program, technically they worked for the CIA even though the infrastructure used at this time for reconnaissance flights was DoD and NASA. This was for plausible deniability should they be captured for any reason (technical difficulties causing a forced landing for example). To this day it cannot be strictly published precisely the flight plans of SR-71 missions flown through the late-70's and 80's...but the high resolution images of Blackjack and Flanker development prototypes on the runway make the message clear, obviously they flew not only into Soviet airspace but right over Russian military development centres. This is strictly illegal under international law for countries not in an open state of hostilities. The US government, that is, taxpayers today could be liable...for billions in damages. Certainly nobody would pay, and there you have an international incident in every sense of the word. Some might consider it a declaration of war.

US career military pilots flying "Black Ops" missions through this harsh period of the Cold War received no recourse from their government, and were tried as spies if captured like the U2 pilot downed around 1958. They were subject to summary execution if caught, which also meant any means of torture for intelligence purposes with total deniability.

As for maximum performance figures, for the most part these are unecessary in military warplanes. Great for breaking records under controlled conditions and rattling sabres if that's what you want to do, or for aerospace technology development.
The envelope in which the SR-71 flew was a high mach cruising condition. Far more important than dash speed and maximum altitude was sustainable altitude and absolute speed over distance. In most circumstances these were the only ways of even knowing how fast you were going, pilots didn't sit there watching a Mach meter, they watched temperature meters and engine guages, watched for flameouts and worried about inlet geometry. 3.2 Mach and 3.4 Mach essentially means the same thing to the crew over a mission, the point was it covered 2,000km averaging 3.3 Mach, which they know because it took precisely ~min and ~seconds to cover the distance at ~altitude. Of somewhat more interest was sustained altitude, which as mentioned some pilots declared was in excess of 100,000 feet, which NASA considered space travel at the time. But again I'd say averaged over a given period, say 30 minutes of a shallow dive and climb to bounce the upper atmosphere and conserve fuel.

So in one sense the maximum performance capabilities of aircraft like the Blackbird and Foxbat aren't so much classified as slightly irrelevent. I do know the DoD didn't want the maximum altitude of the Blackbird published, however with the record held by a MiG at over 118,000 feet this could be for as much reason as it couldn't fly that high, as that it could. But again, it doesn't matter. Different mission capabilities and deployment use, entirely different performance envelopes (and thus neither better nor worse).

All these types of aircraft were just plain amazing, and still are today.
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Old 12-14-2008, 12:09 AM   #36
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Did you mean the Pratt & Whitney J58? The General Electric J79 is the engine that powered the F-4 Phantom II, F-104 Starfighter, B-58 Hustler and the A-5 Vigilante.

Sorry if I'm being picky.


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Old 12-14-2008, 12:55 AM   #37
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Did you mean the Pratt & Whitney J58? The General Electric J79 is the engine that powered the F-4 Phantom II, F-104 Starfighter, B-58 Hustler and the A-5 Vigilante.

Sorry if I'm being picky.
Oh not at all, thankyou for the correction, it is always welcome

Yes quite right, I was on a memory roll and mixed up my engines

(edit)
Agree with Jae and Tommycat to an extent, although as alluded the doctrine of military intelligence is far different in every sense to the popularised impression gained from media and entertainment. Generally speaking any Russian aircraft engineer can look at the basic Blackbird design and come up with a workable series of performance figures to a very high degree of voracity depending upon what structure and component details are available. These are largely the product of what information is floating around the domestic sector in a given country. Hence Soviet spies during the Cold War might work for the equivalent of IBM, only in extreme cases would they be involved directly in classified programs (like the Manhattan Project for example), only at the early stages before counter-espionage became a well developed industry and typically only where they were in fact double agents recruited to fool Soviet intelligence networks, but were in fact fooling the fools to boot.

Performance capabilities of combat equipment is virtually impossible to truly restrict, if only because they are mechanical objects driven by simple and commonly available knowledge of physics. Sometimes you can restrict access to specific avionics and componentry, even structure but it is a situation which cannot last, for example the defection of Belyenko with the Foxbat and notice of the Foxhound in development. During the era where industry information was heavily classified political problems ensued with organisations like the CIA and KGB in their respective countries. In the modern age it is next to impossible to severely restrict knowledge of anything at all, remotely technological in nature.

Chances are, if there really is an X-plane in service, some university website will have photos of it and some engineering site has given a detailed appraisal of its performance capabilities. The internet is here: it's a new anti-Cold War world. A Brave New World.

Last edited by vanir; 12-14-2008 at 01:14 AM.
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Old 12-14-2008, 04:56 AM   #38
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(edit)
Agree with Jae and Tommycat to an extent, although as alluded the doctrine of military intelligence is far different in every sense to the popularised impression gained from media and entertainment. Generally speaking any Russian aircraft engineer can look at the basic Blackbird design and come up with a workable series of performance figures to a very high degree of voracity depending upon what structure and component details are available. These are largely the product of what information is floating around the domestic sector in a given country. Hence Soviet spies during the Cold War might work for the equivalent of IBM, only in extreme cases would they be involved directly in classified programs (like the Manhattan Project for example), only at the early stages before counter-espionage became a well developed industry and typically only where they were in fact double agents recruited to fool Soviet intelligence networks, but were in fact fooling the fools to boot.

Performance capabilities of combat equipment is virtually impossible to truly restrict, if only because they are mechanical objects driven by simple and commonly available knowledge of physics. Sometimes you can restrict access to specific avionics and componentry, even structure but it is a situation which cannot last, for example the defection of Belyenko with the Foxbat and notice of the Foxhound in development. During the era where industry information was heavily classified political problems ensued with organisations like the CIA and KGB in their respective countries. In the modern age it is next to impossible to severely restrict knowledge of anything at all, remotely technological in nature.
Well not necessarily. A painted surface doesn't tell you what the surface is made of. nor does it tell what the internal structure is made of nor it's layout. So you could guess by physics, but you do not end at a true limit. A VW bug powered car can be placed under a Lamborghini shaped body.

Still getting a rough idea of the capabilities does not equal the same thing as knowing the exact maximum.


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Chances are, if there really is an X-plane in service, some university website will have photos of it and some engineering site has given a detailed appraisal of its performance capabilities. The internet is here: it's a new anti-Cold War world. A Brave New World.
Or they release data in such a way as to confuse the public into assuming it's just a tinfoil hat wearers theory. There are several ways to hide something secret. Keep yer mouth shut. Bury it in useless data. Tell it to a known conspiracy theorist. Leave fake signs up for some one to see so they look for something completely different. They can't look for it if they are looking for something else.
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Old 12-14-2008, 02:52 PM   #39
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Or they release data in such a way as to confuse the public into assuming it's just a tinfoil hat wearers theory. There are several ways to hide something secret. Keep yer mouth shut. Bury it in useless data. Tell it to a known conspiracy theorist. Leave fake signs up for some one to see so they look for something completely different. They can't look for it if they are looking for something else.
Either way, its tin-foil hat theory until its proven. Hell, Area 51 could be hiding an alien and hid it very well! But until we find out for sure, its a fantasy theory kept alive by the devout.

The Aurora may have in fact have been built, if even just once. If it was, then it is nothing to get worked up about as its probably rusting in a hanger somewhere. If it was mass produced, then we'll never find out because its very existence goes against international law, especially if we actually using it to spy in rival airspace. The Aurora might also be a scapegoat, a public image, for something else that we've been working on that is different from the Aurora entirely.

So, all in all, it probably doesn't exist and if it does then you don't want to know. There is good reason for keeping a lot of this classified.
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Old 12-14-2008, 12:29 AM   #40
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Actually it could be classified so that someone else doesn't get the technology to build on themselves. Capabilities could be classified for a number of reasons. One reason might be that they find a new use for it. What new use that is, we have no idea... if we knew that, it would be in use for that reason haha. It might be brought out of retirement again.

Max speed and altitude on an aircraft that the only evasive maneuver was "Throttle to full and change altitude" would be classified until the plane had a full replacement that outperformed it.
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