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Aurora - a famous speculative project

Flyaway

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Ian33 said:
I'm still 100% in the camp that the Greenland / UK Gap anti shipping asset was the reason for the high speed effort. Too many people saw / heard / experienced 'something' out over the gap over a prolonged period of time for it to be coincidence.
If it was in use as we haven't had any kind of repeat sightings of any kind what's the betting it is long retired & buried in the desert.
 

Black Dog

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Airplane said:
I think that it goes without saying the Pentagon isn't keeping those hangars out in the desert full of acquired Russian equipment and one-off demonstrators.
Well if there isn't you'd wonder what's going on with the amount of money spent.
 

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Black Dog said:
Airplane said:
I think that it goes without saying the Pentagon isn't keeping those hangars out in the desert full of acquired Russian equipment and one-off demonstrators.
Well if there isn't you'd wonder what's going on with the amount of money spent.
$900.00 hammers - self nailing; $2,000.00 toilet seats - self lowering. -SP
 

quellish

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marauder2048 said:
It was the exact strategy (in terms of platforms and payloads) the US was using to counter the theater mobile missile threat.
Makes sense to scale it up to strategic mobile missile threat. And such weapons would have first strike or second strike utility i.e.
they would be generally useful in a strategic sense.
[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]No, it wasn't.[/font]
[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]In the 80s the "[/font]theater mobile missile threat" WAS the same as the "strategic mobile missile threat" - this was the SRT mission. Conventional TBM hunting was not really on the radar. The "strategy" was exactly as I outlined: LACROSSE, QUARTZ, B-2.

[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]In 1985 DARPA started the Smart Weapons Program which focused on using loitering autonomous weapons to hit fleeting mobile targets. Some of this concept became TACIT RAINBOW. SWP Phase 2 was THIRSTY SABRE, which aimed to put sensors and smarts on a conventional ACM as a hunter-killer system dispensing "dumb" submunitions on mobile targets. Sensors and software were tested on a surrogate aircraft.[/font]

[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]During DESERT STORM the [/font][font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]"theater mobile missile threat" was a higher priority. This lead to THIRSTY WARRIOR, which was a continuation of THIRSTY SABRE focused on mobile TBM. After DESERT STORM interest in the concept dried up. Later WARBREAKER attacked the mobile TBM problem with a very different, fully integrated approach.[/font]

[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]None of these efforts used ICBM delivered vehicles.[/font]
[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]The only "ICBM" delivered payload vehicle that had terminal homing like you describe was the Ballistic Intercept Missile, which was not an ICBM and not an anti-surface weapon. The Air Force hypersonic glide vehicle was also not delivered by an ICBM, was an anti-surface weapon, but did not have terminal homing. The ballistic ASSAULT BREAKER concepts were also not ICBM delivered and did not have terminal homing. [/font]

[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]The only "ICBM" delivered cruise missile I am aware of was the "Ballistic Cruise Missile", which was not an ICBM (but required a very large booster) and was the size of an airliner. It was not used for the SRT mission nor was a hunter-killer.
[/font]
marauder2048 said:
Given that the Reagan administration had rescinded the ban on overflights in order to aid in the hunt for the mobile missiles it was
more practical.



QUARTZ would have to be forward staged during a crisis. This was not practical. For QUARTZ to be useful it had to be over the target area before the strikers - either forward deployed or deployed from CONUS well ahead of the bombers.


If there was a change in overflight policy I am not aware of it.


marauder2048 said:
It would have filled that need by taking very low SNR images over a vast area at hypersonic speed, then using a data link that works at hypersonic speed (none were known to exist during this period or well after) transmit that vast amount of data to the survivable satellite relay system that could handle all of 1.2 kilobits/sec? C'mon...



All of these things had been flight demonstrated by 1985.

marauder2048 said:
If you want a hypersonic imager you would get it by reserving some of your survivable ICBM/SLBM forcer or bombers equipped with Pegasus as LEO satellite launchers.

That would serve the far more pressing need of reconstituting your space systems with any number
of the lightsat, smallsat, cheapsat or sparse phased array radar sat concepts that were explored in the early 80's.



Pegasus is volume and mass limited. An IMINT system of sufficient resolution to find and track mobile ICBMs would not fit. A radar would probably not fit either because of power and antenna requirements.

[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]And these things did not exist during this timeframe.
[/font]
 

starviking

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quellish said:
The only "ICBM" delivered cruise missile I am aware of was the "Ballistic Cruise Missile", which was not an ICBM (but required a very large booster) and was the size of an airliner. It was not used for the SRT mission nor was a hunter-killer.

Oh, you have to tell us more about that, if you are allowed to.
 

quellish

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starviking said:
Oh, you have to tell us more about that, if you are allowed to.

Boeing and Vought worked on it between 1979-1982.



"It is intended to be vertically launched from a Minuteman silo, then transition to a cruise missile configuration, cruise toward its target, loiter if necessary, and finally fly a ballistic path into the target. Unclassified accounts describe it as the size of a Boeing 727 with a 88-foot wing span."


"Engine inlet testing has been completed on scale models of the Boeing-built cruise ballistic missile, reports the Air Force. In the 4-ft transonic wind tunnel at the Arnold Engineering Development Center, the jet-engine air-inlet performance was evaluated and found satisfactory under simulated takeoff and cruise conditions. A typical mission includes a vertical launch from a silo, followed by wing and tail-surface deployment, engine start, and subsonic cruise at an altitude range of 25,000 to 30,000 ft. At the end of the cruise phase, the warhead separates from the cruise missile, ignites its own engine, and flies independently to the target."


And...
http://arc.aiaa.org/doi/abs/10.2514/6.1982-181
 

Grey Havoc

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So basically the warhead bus was a SRBM?
 

marauder2048

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quellish said:
marauder2048 said:
It was the exact strategy (in terms of platforms and payloads) the US was using to counter the theater mobile missile threat.
Makes sense to scale it up to strategic mobile missile threat. And such weapons would have first strike or second strike utility i.e.
they would be generally useful in a strategic sense.
[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]No, it wasn't.[/font]
[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]In the 80s the "[/font]theater mobile missile threat" WAS the same as the "strategic mobile missile threat" - this was the SRT mission. Conventional TBM hunting was not really on the radar. The "strategy" was exactly as I outlined: LACROSSE, QUARTZ, B-2.[/font
quellish said:
marauder2048 said:
It was the exact strategy (in terms of platforms and payloads) the US was using to counter the theater mobile missile threat.
Makes sense to scale it up to strategic mobile missile threat. And such weapons would have first strike or second strike utility i.e.
they would be generally useful in a strategic sense.
[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]No, it wasn't.
quellish said:
[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]In the 80s the "[/font]theater mobile missile threat" WAS the same as the "strategic mobile missile threat" - this was the SRT mission. Conventional TBM hunting was not really on the radar. The "strategy" was exactly as I outlined: LACROSSE, QUARTZ, B-2.

[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]In 1985 DARPA started the Smart Weapons Program which focused on using loitering autonomous weapons to hit fleeting mobile targets. Some of this concept became TACIT RAINBOW. SWP Phase 2 was THIRSTY SABRE, which aimed to put sensors and smarts on a conventional ACM as a hunter-killer system dispensing "dumb" submunitions on mobile targets. Sensors and software were tested on a surrogate aircraft.[/font]

[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]During DESERT STORM the [/font][font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]"theater mobile missile threat" was a higher priority. This lead to THIRSTY WARRIOR, which was a continuation of THIRSTY SABRE focused on mobile TBM. After DESERT STORM interest in the concept dried up. Later WARBREAKER attacked the mobile TBM problem with a very different, fully integrated approach.[/font]

[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]None of these efforts used ICBM delivered vehicles.[/font]
[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]The only "ICBM" delivered payload vehicle that had terminal homing like you describe was the Ballistic Intercept Missile, which was not an ICBM and not an anti-surface weapon. The Air Force hypersonic glide vehicle was also not delivered by an ICBM, was an anti-surface weapon, but did not have terminal homing. The ballistic ASSAULT BREAKER concepts were also not ICBM delivered and did not have terminal homing. [/font]

[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]The only "ICBM" delivered cruise missile I am aware of was the "Ballistic Cruise Missile", which was not an ICBM (but required a very large booster) and was the size of an airliner. It was not used for the SRT mission nor was a hunter-killer.
[/font]
marauder2048 said:
Given that the Reagan administration had rescinded the ban on overflights in order to aid in the hunt for the mobile missiles it was
more practical.



QUARTZ would have to be forward staged during a crisis. This was not practical. For QUARTZ to be useful it had to be over the target area before the strikers - either forward deployed or deployed from CONUS well ahead of the bombers.


If there was a change in overflight policy I am not aware of it.


marauder2048 said:
It would have filled that need by taking very low SNR images over a vast area at hypersonic speed, then using a data link that works at hypersonic speed (none were known to exist during this period or well after) transmit that vast amount of data to the survivable satellite relay system that could handle all of 1.2 kilobits/sec? C'mon...



All of these things had been flight demonstrated by 1985.

marauder2048 said:
If you want a hypersonic imager you would get it by reserving some of your survivable ICBM/SLBM forcer or bombers equipped with Pegasus as LEO satellite launchers.

That would serve the far more pressing need of reconstituting your space systems with any number
of the lightsat, smallsat, cheapsat or sparse phased array radar sat concepts that were explored in the early 80's.



Pegasus is volume and mass limited. An IMINT system of sufficient resolution to find and track mobile ICBMs would not fit. A radar would probably not fit either because of power and antenna requirements.

[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]And these things did not exist during this timeframe.
[/font]


[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]In 1985 DARPA started the Smart Weapons Program which focused on using loitering autonomous weapons to hit fleeting mobile targets. Some of this concept became TACIT RAINBOW. SWP Phase 2 was THIRSTY SABRE, which aimed to put sensors and smarts on a conventional ACM as a hunter-killer system dispensing "dumb" submunitions on mobile targets. Sensors and software were tested on a surrogate aircraft.[/font]

[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]During DESERT STORM the [/font][font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]"theater mobile missile threat" was a higher priority. This lead to THIRSTY WARRIOR, which was a continuation of THIRSTY SABRE focused on mobile TBM. After DESERT STORM interest in the concept dried up. Later WARBREAKER attacked the mobile TBM problem with a very different, fully integrated approach.[/font]

[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]None of these efforts used ICBM delivered vehicles.[/font]
[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]The only "ICBM" delivered payload vehicle that had terminal homing like you describe was the Ballistic Intercept Missile, which was not an ICBM and not an anti-surface weapon. The Air Force hypersonic glide vehicle was also not delivered by an ICBM, was an anti-surface weapon, but did not have terminal homing. The ballistic ASSAULT BREAKER concepts were also not ICBM delivered and did not have terminal homing. [/font]

[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]The only "ICBM" delivered cruise missile I am aware of was the "Ballistic Cruise Missile", which was not an ICBM (but required a very large booster) and was the size of an airliner. It was not used for the SRT mission nor was a hunter-killer.
[/font]
marauder2048 said:
Given that the Reagan administration had rescinded the ban on overflights in order to aid in the hunt for the mobile missiles it was
more practical.



QUARTZ would have to be forward staged during a crisis. This was not practical. For QUARTZ to be useful it had to be over the target area before the strikers - either forward deployed or deployed from CONUS well ahead of the bombers.


If there was a change in overflight policy I am not aware of it.


marauder2048 said:
It would have filled that need by taking very low SNR images over a vast area at hypersonic speed, then using a data link that works at hypersonic speed (none were known to exist during this period or well after) transmit that vast amount of data to the survivable satellite relay system that could handle all of 1.2 kilobits/sec? C'mon...



All of these things had been flight demonstrated by 1985.

marauder2048 said:
If you want a hypersonic imager you would get it by reserving some of your survivable ICBM/SLBM forcer or bombers equipped with Pegasus as LEO satellite launchers.

That would serve the far more pressing need of reconstituting your space systems with any number
of the lightsat, smallsat, cheapsat or sparse phased array radar sat concepts that were explored in the early 80's.



Pegasus is volume and mass limited. An IMINT system of sufficient resolution to find and track mobile ICBMs would not fit. A radar would probably not fit either because of power and antenna requirements.

[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]And these things did not exist during this timeframe.
[/font]

The SS-20 threat (i.e. the INF or European theater threat) long predated the SS-24 and SS-25 threat. Hunting those was of great concern to NATO in the late 70's.
If you'll recall, some of the initial concepts included providing GLCM with a datalink so it could provide updated targeting info as it overflew hostile territory. So there's continuity in CONOPS.
The SS-20 was a substrategic threat so the same systems could be used for tracking/detection but not for attack out of concern for escalation into the strategic sphere.

The entire digression into the conventional TBM threat is informative and appreciated but irrelevant; we're positing a strategic trans/post-attack scenario where you can employ 500 Kiloton (or greater) warheads that kill all TELs within a 10 mile radius.

The objection to forward deployment didn't seem to have impacted CONDOR at all which in fact was premised around that concept. Overflights were to be permitted by the Reagan administration (for hunting mobile missiles) according to the Ehrhard book "Air Force UAVs: The secret history".

I think only reliable telemetry-style datalinks had been demonstrated by 1985; I'm talking about the equivalent of SENIOR SPAN (i.e. the state-of-the-art SATCOM for the period) on an endoatmosopheric hypersonic in the 80's.

There was intensive interest in terminal homing on MaRVs throughout the period; BIM is just one example where the demands were especially exacting because it carried a conventional warhead and had to hit aircraft; DSW was an ICBM penaid MaRV with a terminal seeker but I'm thinking about SMART MaRV and MSTART for the ICBM delivered mobile target killers. The main point being that many if not most of the "near term" solutions for going after the distant, mobile strategic target set were ballistic missile based.


Pegasus is but one approach to reconstituting LEO space assets; one MX could loft a reasonably sized cluster of distributed aperture radar smallsats (~ 300 lbs with ~300 watt TX) into very LEO. Even a small cluster of reasonably spaced elements gives you a very large synthetic aperture and the ability to coherently integrate over multiple passes in a day vs. the go-large, go-long, go-high, go-heavy LACROSSE SAR approach. Sure, they won't last nearly as long as LACROSSE but more than long enough to be useful. It makes sense to co-mingle your survival trans/post-attack recon assets with your survivable
trans/post-attack ICBM/SLBM force since now the recon assets are organic to the battery.

A manned, hypersonic endoatmospheric recon aircraft has so many survivability glass jaws (alone) to work out for its use as a trans-attack/post-attack asset of any form.
Perhaps that's why the 1989-1990 National Academy (including the Air Force Studies Board) study on "Hypersonic Technology for Military Application" starts off by stating "that firm military operational concepts do not exist for applications of hypersonic aircraft." (emphasis mine)
 

quellish

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marauder2048 said:
The entire digression into the conventional TBM threat is informative and appreciated but irrelevant; we're positing a strategic trans/post-attack scenario where you can employ 500 Kiloton (or greater) warheads that kill all TELs within a 10 mile radius.



No, SRAM II had significantly less yield than that, and the TELs in question were considered harder to kill.

marauder2048 said:
The objection to forward deployment didn't seem to have impacted CONDOR at all which in fact was premised around that concept. Overflights were to be permitted by the Reagan administration (for hunting mobile missiles) according to the Ehrhard book "Air Force UAVs: The secret history".



Huh? CONDOR was not a SIOP-supporting system. It was for persistent standoff detection of threats to Navy carrier battle groups.

marauder2048 said:
I think only reliable telemetry-style datalinks had been demonstrated by 1985; I'm talking about the equivalent of SENIOR SPAN (i.e. the state-of-the-art SATCOM for the period) on an endoatmosopheric hypersonic in the 80's.



SWERVE demonstrated robust data links for retargetting and apertures to support a radar for locating targets.

marauder2048 said:
There was intensive interest in terminal homing on MaRVs throughout the period; BIM is just one example where the demands were especially exacting because it carried a conventional warhead and had to hit aircraft;


There was more than one payload for the Ballistic Intercept Missile.

marauder2048 said:

DSW was an ICBM penaid MaRV with a terminal seeker but I'm thinking about SMART MaRV and MSTART for the ICBM delivered mobile target killers. The main point being that many if not most of the "near term" solutions for going after the distant, mobile strategic target set were ballistic missile based.


There is a big difference between "concept" and "solution". There were a lot of concepts on paper - there always will be - but very few of those made it farther. The DARPA Ballistic Intercept Missile made it past paper and involved terminal homing. The Air Force and Navy ballistic glide or maneuvering programs of the period that went beyond paper did not involve terminal homing, and were (also) not for striking SRT or mobile surface targets.


marauder2048 said:
A manned, hypersonic endoatmospheric recon aircraft has so many survivability glass jaws (alone) to work out for its use as a trans-attack/post-attack asset of any form.
Perhaps that's why the 1989-1990 National Academy (including the Air Force Studies Board) study on "Hypersonic Technology for Military Application" starts off by stating "that firm military operational concepts do not exist for applications of hypersonic aircraft." (emphasis mine)



That study was intended to explore how hypersonic technology COULD be used for military applications. The full paragraph from the summary though is:




Early in our proceedings, we found that firm military operational concepts do not exist for applications of hypersonic aircraft. Determination of operational requirements must await a better understanding of criical technologies. Thus, the focus of this report is an evaluation of the status of these tech- nologies. From this evaluation we concluded that:


• Hypersonic aircraft technology and ramjet/scramjet propulsion offer potentially large increases in speed, altitude, and range of military aircraft, and may enable or extend important Air Force missions.
• The simplest (and probably most feasible) hypersonic vehicle would cruise in the range below Mach
number 8.
• The most attractive missions involve
flight to orbital or near-orbital speed above the sensible atmosphere. These missions offer flexible recall, en route redirection, and return to base.
• Any potential military advantage in the speed range between Mach number 8 aad orbital velocity would be negated by technical difficulties in the areas of surface heating and thrust. and weapons carriage, aiming, and release
• The global or near-global range coupled with the cryogenic fuels of hypersonic aircraft will require unusual base support requirements that must be considered in any judgment of their operational utility.



So the study actually concluded that a sub-Mach 8 cruise aircraft would be feasible and have military utility. It was absolutely correct that at the time there was no current military requirement for a hypersonic aircraft - there was, however, a set of requirements for the SRT mission, and a set of requirements for penetrating persistent surveillance. QUARTZ was a system to satisfy the latter, and was sold as a solution to the former.



 

SpeedFanatic

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Ian33 said:
I'm still 100% in the camp that the Greenland / UK Gap anti shipping asset was the reason for the high speed effort. Too many people saw / heard / experienced 'something' out over the gap over a prolonged period of time for it to be coincidence.
First time poster here! Hello everyone!

Ian33, do you have any links or other additional informations about "the high speed anti shipping asset" that was roaring through Greenland/UK Gap area? Manned or unmanned?

Heard something similar somewhere else on the net, it points me to make conclusions lol
 

xstatic3000

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SpeedFanatic said:
Ian33 said:
I'm still 100% in the camp that the Greenland / UK Gap anti shipping asset was the reason for the high speed effort. Too many people saw / heard / experienced 'something' out over the gap over a prolonged period of time for it to be coincidence.
First time poster here! Hello everyone!

Ian33, do you have any links or other additional informations about "the high speed anti shipping asset" that was roaring through Greenland/UK Gap area? Manned or unmanned?

Heard something similar somewhere else on the net, it points me to make conclusions lol
Here is our thread on the GIUK Gap Interceptor, which in my opinion is the best resource on the subject:

https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,6422.0.html
 

marauder2048

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The state of the national hypersonic wind tunnels that the programs of the early 90's encountered
clearly indicated that no large scale development had occurred in the previous decade.

So what about industry wind tunnels?

This is what the head of Lockheed's Skunk Works says:

“If there’s an area where I think we’re challenged, from a resource standpoint, it’s around hypersonic test facilities,” Babione said.
The nation’s high-speed wind tunnels “have not been kept up,” he added. ”They’re fragile.”
It’s not uncommon to find facilities can’t be used for lack of maintenance.

“Right now, we’re on the ragged edge of having enough test capacity,” Babione said.
“We need, as a nation … to invest in a much greater, more modern infrastructure to do this testing.”

Such wind tunnels are too big and expensive to expect industry to build them, Babione said. They must be seen as “national assets.
My emphasis

http://www.airforcemag.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2019/May 2019/Strategy--Policy.aspx
 

sublight is back

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The state of the national hypersonic wind tunnels that the programs of the early 90's encountered
clearly indicated that no large scale development had occurred in the previous decade.
Good. Because all of this research would have been stolen over the years to help opposing nations save billions in achieving parity with DoD hypersonic development.
 

marauder2048

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"Hypersonic Technology for Military Application" published by the National Research Council gives
a very good accounting of the poor state and inadequate capability of the national hypersonic test facilities
for air breathers from 1975 - 1989.

Collectively, the report is practically fatal to any suggestion that these facilities supported the development
of an air breathing hypersonic aircraft during this period.

https://www.nap.edu/catalog/1747/hypersonic-technology-for-military-application

So I think that leaves some combination of:

a. a program that eschewed extensive ground testing in favor of something like HIFIRE on steroids
b. cooperative use of foreign facilities
c. non-cooperative use of foreign facilities
d. espionage against foreign developments
 

Sundog

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The question I still want answered is what was the McDonnell Douglas high speed test aircraft on the cover of Aviation Week that looked like it either used mixed propulsion or was using a mixed cycle propulsion system? It is a Keith Ferris painting that was on the cover of Aviation Week of McDonnell Douglas aircraft and even Aviation Week never talked about what the hell the vehicle is/was? But all of the other aircraft in the painting had flown, so I am assuming that vehicle had flown as well.

Here's the link from up thread https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/threads/aurora-a-famous-speculative-project.7886/page-7#post-180588
 
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Sundog

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I've been looking for the issue, which I can't find since I've been rearranging a lot of stuff around here. But it may have been on a two page spread with in it. I just remember it was a painting of McDonnell Douglas designs in Aviation Week.
 

sienar

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Around what year was it? The painting looks 90ish to me.
 

Forest Green

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What do people think about the September '94 Boscombe Down incident speculated to involve the Aurora?
 

Forest Green

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You sure there was one? - covered many times here, not even the original author of (what is typically seen as) the original post on it really puts much stead in it:

Are we talking about the same thing? This was in 1994, not late 1980s.


I'm sure there was an incident, whether it involved the Aurora is less certain.
 
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Vahe Demirjian

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The drawing by Bill Sweetman shows vertical stabilizers mounted at obtuse, but the cover of Bill Sweetman's 1993 book on the Aurora and a 3 view drawing in the book depicts Aurora with vertical stabilizers mounted at 90 degrees and an engine intake that Sweetman mentioned was described by an eyewitness as shaped like an evil smiley face.
 

Vahe Demirjian

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I've read Sweetman's 1993 book about Aurora. In the chapter "Price of Denial", it is mentioned that an article published in a 1993 issue of Aerospace Daily claimed an Aurora-type strategic reconnaissance design had been cancelled due to technical difficulties. On page 88, there is a 1981 Lockheed artist's concept of a spyplane with an SR-71's fuselage and B-1's tailplane/ Anyone have sources to corroborate the claim in Aerospace Daily?
 

Vahe Demirjian

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Any additional info on the 1985 Lockheed concept? An artist's concept was in Gunston's "Future Fighters" suggesting a turboramjet propulsion system. Top speed was estimated at Mach 5.

I also remember reading a story from 1988 or 1989 suggesting that an SR-71 follow-on would be air-launched from the cargo bay of a C-5. Does anybody else recall similar reports? When combined with the early 90's report of a lifting body being loaded into the back of a C-5, it's easy to see where some of the details in the "Blackstar" story came from. I'm skeptical that you'd want to launch any kind of aircraft from a C-5 because of the restrictions it would place on your wingspan (and ultimately the size of the vehicle.)
The November 1988 Popular Science magazine mentioning an SR-71 follow-on is the story you're talking about. Since the book "Future Fighters" was published in 1984, the Lockheed concept was envisaged a few years earlier, namely in 1981.
 

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1,004
It was for future recce/bomber concepts.
 
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