back to article SR-71 Blackbird follow-up: A new TERRIFYING Mach 6 spy-drone bomber

The famous SR-71 Blackbird was put out to pasture over a decade ago – but the legendary Skunk Works aviation wizards that built it have been showing off a replacement that can travel twice as fast and it could be in the skies within a decade. The SR-72 will be unmanned, saving a lot of the weight needed to keep the two fleshy …

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  1. Adair

    As an intellectual and technological excercise...

    great fun---toys for the boys. On almost every other level: O dear. One day the US of A might get over itself. Hubris is very cruel, and as usual it's the weakest and most vulnerable who bear the brunt of the consequences. Perhaps the US has better things to be doing with its brightest minds and ever growing national debt.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

      Many technological marvels of the 20th century were the result of military research. I suspect the amount of public and private wealth realized from the Internet dwarfs the money put into developing ARPANET.

      Getting reliable and cheap scramjets makes it easier to get humanity into space, which is ultimately where humanity needs to go in order to survive.

      1. oolor

        Re: humanity in space

        >Getting reliable and cheap scramjets makes it easier to get humanity into space, which is ultimately where humanity needs to go in order to survive.

        By far the biggest issue with us humans being able to survive extended periods in space is the social issues that will arise more so than technical. Yes we will soon be able to make/create the tech required and perhaps even build it on the 'fly'. But the consequences over so much as a small disagreement over which bolt to tighten first or what angle the socket driver should be held at could very conceivably lead to disastrous rash actions that here on earth are less dangerous than in a confined inhospitable environment.

        1. Ted Treen
          Trollface

          Re: humanity in space

          "... he biggest issue with us humans being able to survive extended periods in space is the social issues that will arise..."

          You mean you don't look forward to sharing a cabin with Simon Cowell for six months...?

          1. Ian 55

            Re: humanity in space

            "You mean you don't look forward to sharing a cabin with Simon Cowell for six months...?"

            Depends on the 'toys' I can take.

            1. tony2heads
              Trollface

              @Ian 55

              No chainsaws! The internal combustion would pollute too much.

              Other stuff should be fine.

          2. dan1980

            Re: humanity in space

            You mean you don't look forward to sharing a cabin with Simon Cowell for six months...?

            Surely he would be assigned to the 'B' ark . . .

        2. itzman

          Re: humanity in space

          social issues? like "why are you discriminating against me? Because I don't believe in mutant space goats?'

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        FAIL

        Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

        "Many technological marvels of the 20th century were the result of military research. I suspect the amount of public and private wealth realized from the Internet dwarfs the money put into developing ARPANET."

        Actually true.

        "Getting reliable and cheap scramjets makes it easier to get humanity into space,"

        Written by someone deeply ignorant of the difference between "launch" and "cruise".

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

          NOTHING LEFT TO CUT!

          "Many technological marvels of the 20th century were the result of military research. I suspect the amount of public and private wealth realized from the Internet dwarfs the money put into developing ARPANET."

          False dichotomy fallacy. Many more technological marvels of the 20th century were the result of non-military research. The counterfactual is: if the money had been left in the economy, what would people have come up with, quite probably more efficiently?

          I will also say that the bill for all this has not even be paid yet. There WILL be suffering. MUCH suffering.

          1. oolor

            Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

            >I will also say that the bill for all this has not even be paid yet. There WILL be suffering. MUCH suffering.

            Those under 35 or so are projected to pay 10% more taxes in their lifetimes to get a similar level of government services.

            I also agree that private innovation is more efficient, though, it would mean that we could be at risk of another country without openness using such innovation against us. There is a reason that large industrial endevours like nuclear, air and space transport, and communications are often run under government auspices as there are often military side projects off these that are of interest from a tactical perspective.

            For example, the diversion of nuclear material for weapons, space flight is easily re-purposed for ICBM use, and, well as of a few months ago, we need not speak of government and communications. I make no claims as to this being the way things should be, but given human nature, I am hardly surprised.

          2. itzman

            Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

            Whenever you pour money into doing cutting edge stuff the chance to explore new untried ways of doing things occurs.

            It doesn't HAVE to be military. But traditionally it oftens has been.

            - Radar

            - Spread spectrum radio

            - GPS

            - The integrated circuit.

            - The internet.

            - Nuclear power

            - Early robotics

            These are all ideas that got their first airing as part of defence programs.

            Against that you have a few technological breakthroughs that are only partly associated with the military

            The Laser - originally it was the Maser a useful thing for radar, but laser development was entirely civil up to star wars time.

            Most biotech.

            Web applications and the like.

            But these last would not have been available without te enabling technology of IC based computing and teh internet.

            The military spend creates enabling technologies which are then adapted to civil uses.

            And that is because military needs are civil needs as well. To carry a load of bombs a long distance in WWII large 4 engine bombers with extreme range were developed, They are in they end practically airliners - remove the bomb bays and add seats , pretty hostesses, and a pressure skin and there you are.

            Accurate global positioning is a must for long range weapons. Its jolly useful for hill walkers in fog, too.

            This isn't a justification for military spend per se, but it is a justification for targeted application of large sums of money towards developing technology that can in the end repay the investment a miillion times more effectively than simply keeping a few more people on the dole at a slightly higher level of comfort.

            1. tom dial Silver badge

              Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

              You forgot to mention the digital computer.

            2. No, I will not fix your computer

              Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

              @itzman

              While it's absolutely true that much funding has come from military, it's logical to assume if we didn't spend money on the military, we'd spend it on something else, or conversely, because the military was funding it you didn't need to fund it elsewhere.

              However, look look at your specific points;

              RADAR Christian Hulsmeyer first used radio waves to detect ships (collision avoidance) - Not military

              Spread spectrum radio - the link between this and CDMA (etc.) is tenuous at best, it is similar technology but with decades between them it's hard to credit this development with what is used today.

              GPS - pretty much a military funded invention, pretty sure it wouldn't have happened (at least as soon) without this funding (I'll give you that one) doesn't mean it wouldn't have been invented of course.

              The Integrated Circuit - not sure why you think this is a military invention, Werner Jacobi first suggested (and patented) this idea (simple amplifier) and proposed it's use in hearing aids, the first people to use IC's was the USAF, but it's hard to call it a military invention per se.

              The Internet - merely a network of networks, often attributed to the military because of it's "redundancy during attack, ARPANET" this is untrue and a popular myth, notwithstanding, even if this was the case I think it's pretty obvious that universities were going to connect their networks regardless of the military aspect (and proposals for networks such as Merit preceded it, X25 etc.)

              Nuclear power - This is an odd one, primarily because the first looks into nuclear power were non military, then the use was militarised (for weapons), and only after WW2 was nuclear power used for (usable) engery creation, there is an argument that the use in war stunted development for power as the government regulated and controlled it's use (with explicit classification).

              Robotics? seriously?

              1. Megapril

                Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

                The fact of the matter is that, even with the examples that were started or invented before the military, the military took these inventions and improved and streamlined them faster than what would have happened in the free market.

            3. Tom 13

              Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

              I don't think electricity was strongly associated with the defense and was instead civilian. And while there are certain areas of chemical or metallurgical research strongly associated with defense, I suspect equal amounts with little defense input. Certainly anything in the area of fertilizers is primarily civilian.

              That being said, the one area where technological advancement is strongly correlated with defense, and even more precisely, hot wars is surgical breakthroughs and artificial limb replacement.

              If you put all the eggs in either basket something will be stymied. The question is where to draw the line. I'd probably make it 80:20. Civies get 80 and government gets 20. I think private is more efficient but tends toward evolutionary rather than revolutionary. So even though short term gains are easily quantified, getting the big picture is rather more difficult. Government is better at the revolutionary stuff, but at the cost of efficiency. You fund a lot of dud ideas to get that one really good one.

          3. Jamie Jones Silver badge

            Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

            "False dichotomy fallacy. Many more technological marvels of the 20th century were the result of non-military research. The counterfactual is: if the money had been left in the economy, what would people have come up with, quite probably more efficiently?"

            YES! YES! YES! ('D.A.M.', have my babies!) :-)

            This has always been a bugbear of mine - not specifically relating to military spending.

            The number of times some project is defended with 'think of the benefits to other stuff that our consequential inventing of x...y....z... has given'

            My response is that if the project had simply concentrated on developing x...y...z... in the first place, it would have been cheaper, and likely better.

            Another one I hear is 'I do the lottery to help good causes'

            Sigh - if you wanted to help good causes, you could give 100% of your stake, not 10%..

            Sorry, rant over!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

              If you pay tax, you can give 125% of your stake to good causes.

              The reason that military research leads to new discoveries is simply that politicians like military research.

            2. Psyx

              Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

              "My response is that if the project had simply concentrated on developing x...y...z... in the first place, it would have been cheaper, and likely better."

              Yes, but there is no public sector drive to do so. The best we get is military sector research. Even private sector research is hamstrung by needing to pay off, which stops lots of promising avenues of investigation.

              "Another one I hear is 'I do the lottery to help good causes'."

              Clearly bullsh!t: People do the lottery to help themselves, with the charitable donation just there so they can justify their gambling habit. And poor choice of gambling habit at that: Lotteries are a tax on people who can't do maths.

              "Sigh - if you wanted to help good causes, you could give 100% of your stake, not 10%.."

              More than that. Although the UK Health Lottery gives less and is essentially a grey-area scam.

              1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
                Thumb Up

                Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

                " Yes, but there is no public sector drive to do so. The best we get is military sector research. Even private sector research is hamstrung by needing to pay off, which stops lots of promising avenues of investigation."

                Good point, and I agree with you.

                ""Another one I hear is 'I do the lottery to help good causes'."

                Clearly bullsh!t: People do the lottery to help themselves, with the charitable donation just there so they can justify their gambling habit. And poor choice of gambling habit at that: Lotteries are atax on people who can't do maths."

                Oh, definitely! That's why I then suggest they instead give all their stake to charity if they care so much!

                And yes, it's no coincidence it's known in some circles as "a tax on the stupid!"

                ""Sigh - if youwanted to help good causes, you could give 100% of your stake, not 10%.."

                More than that. Although the UK Health Lottery gives less and is essentially a grey-area scam."

                Ah yes, as someone else piinted out, there are tax breaks etc.

                As for the UK health lottery, I didn't realise that. I don't do any lottery, but thanks for the heads-up - I will bear that in mind if I discover any friends do.

                1. Vic

                  Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

                  > As for the UK health lottery, I didn't realise that.

                  Look at the small-print on the TV ad: it's a revolving selection from 51 regional lotteries. IOW, if you pay for it every week, you only even get *entered* into a lottery once a year...

                  Thieving bastards.

                  Vic.

                2. Psyx

                  Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

                  "As for the UK health lottery, I didn't realise that. I don't do any lottery, but thanks for the heads-up - I will bear that in mind if I discover any friends do."

                  Please do!

                  I nearly purchased a ticket once, by way of "I've had a crap day, I fancy daydreaming about having a million quid, and can legitimately do so for £1. This new health lottery seems more focused in expenditure and a good idea."

                  Luckily, I decided not to and instead spent the evening googling -aghast- stuff on the health lottery.

                  Firstly, it's not run by Camelot, and not an official national lottery, despite the similar branding and marketing. It is run by Richard Desmond's company: Porn baron and now owner of OK! magazine, the Express and the Star.

                  It's not a traditional 50:50 lottery and only gives 20% to charity, instead of the National Lottery's 28%.

                  Finally, it's basically only legal because the lawyers found a loophole. A true lottery requires a government license, and only Camelot have one. Instead it's run as a number of local lotteries, to effectively skirt the law.

                  Probably the worst thing about it is the sheer deception: Trying to portray it with adverts and marketing deceptively similar to Camelot's so we assume it to be an off-shoot, the false inference that it gives more than the National Lottery, and the legal shenanigans behind it.

          4. JJSmith1950

            Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

            "False dichotomy fallacy. Many more technological marvels of the 20th century were the result of non-military research."

            Such as?

            Sorry, that was a rhetorical question. All our current tech can be traced back to Government R&D programmes. Indeed, the industrial revolution was built on military tech for boring accurate canons. These machine were repurposed after the Napoleonic War when it was found they could produce "ultra" efficient pistons, which made steam engine technology viable.

            "The counterfactual is: if the money had been left in the economy, what would people have come up with, quite probably more efficiently?"

            You too are guilty of an informal logical fallacy: the "appeal to probability" fallacy. No company would invest hundreds of billions over decades for technology with no market. There was no demand for the technology produced for the Government, other than the Government.

            You are letting your ideology cloud your judgement.

            1. Harry Kay
              Coat

              Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

              Boring accurate canons?? I am sure that well respected man of the cloth the Reverend Canon Dr. Joe Bloggs can indeed sometimes be boringly accurate.

          5. No, I will not fix your computer

            Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

            >>Many more technological marvels of the 20th century were the result of non-military research. The counterfactual is: if the money had been left in the economy, what would people have come up with, quite probably more efficiently?

            There's truth and there's truth, WW1/WW2 gave us huge medical advances, as you get really good at stitching people up when you have a lot of people to work on (and since 1900, around 150 million died because of war) - the question is, if we didn't have war (and therefore didn't have such an intense knowledge) would we be worse off, the same or better off, and there's arguments for all three, what's true is that we made the best of a bad job.

            What about technological advancements? I guess it's a similar thing is true, would we have achieved more without broken infrastructure (like schools and universities) the loss of (typically) young men when they would otherwise be contributing/graduating intellectually makes me think that while necessity is obviously one of the parents to invention, perhaps we could have done more with a few more children.

            1. Psyx

              Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

              " the question is, if we didn't have war (and therefore didn't have such an intense knowledge) would we be worse off"

              Well, we'd be more over-populated, so I guess: yes!

              1. No, I will not fix your computer

                Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

                It's a valid point, but at 8 billion people, losing 150 million over 100 years isn't that much impacting to population, it's more of a problem that the people we lost were those who would make the biggest (positive) contributions, those in the prime of their working lives (unlike the old and young).

                Notwithstanding, all that wasted money, infrastructure etc. we did get the NHS out of it I suppose, I guess where we can all agree is that it would have been better to have development without death, if only there was some way of making that happen!

            2. Megapril

              Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

              History tells us that humans have always been at war with each other and therefore it will always be that way in the future... People fight. It is a waste of time to think otherwise, and an even bigger waste to spend time thinking "what if" there were never any wars at all.

              What isn't a waste of time is thinking about ways we can benefit from it...

              1. Psyx

                Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

                " It is a waste of time to think otherwise, "

                A bit like conversations starting "If humans weren't such greedy bastards, communism would be great!".

                Yes: It would, on paper. But any political concept which fails to account for the fact that we are human beings isn't so much as flawed in practice as utterly useless in the first place!

          6. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

            The counterfactual is: if the money had been left in the economy, what would people have come up with, quite probably more efficiently?

            Fart apps?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

              Yes, but imagine the stupendous sophistication and power of the fart apps which could thus have been wrought!

      3. JCitizen
        Flame

        Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

        It would be interesting to know the fuel usage this thing accomplishes - I've read theories that scram-jets could be made to sip fuel, when compared to per mile usage by other technology. It might actually pay to have a transcontinental passenger jet with this development. Imagine getting across the Pacific at Mach 6? About the time you opened you peanuts, here comes the landing! Of course there are equally offset theories that fuel usage could be worse if cooling is difficult. With today's extreme heat resistant alloys, I'd bet the former could be realized.

        1. auburnman

          Re: Imagine getting across the Pacific at Mach 6?

          You could reconstruct that sensation by letting a lorry drive over you.

    2. Psyx

      Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

      Yeah, let's stop inventing aero technologies, because it's not like that invention and development ever leads to anything for us, is it.

      </sarcasm>

      My only personal reservation is the whole "speed is the new stealth" thing. It's far cheaper and easier to develop a hypersonic missile than a plane, and that's obviously going to be the next move in the arms race, which moots the hyperplane.

  2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  3. Roo

    I wonder if SABRE will suddenly get a lot more attention...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I hope so! But I wonder if someone from Skunkworks has been taking photos, wouldn't be the first time the US has taken British aerospace research....

  4. William Donelson

    "We are ready to proceed—the only thing holding us back is the perception that [hypersonics] is always expensive, large and exotic."

    So, only a mere $20 billion then? Congress could easily get that from Food Stamps and only a few millions would starve...

    1. norman

      "Congress could easily get that from Food Stamps and only a few millions would starve..."

      /And those would be Democrat voters.

      1. Don Jefe

        Maybe you're making a joke, and I missed it, but in one of the weirdest things imaginable, the majority of food stamp beneficiaries that actually bother to vote, vote Republican. Why the poor support them is simply beyond me; but the lack of education among the poor seems like a good candidate.

      2. kain preacher Silver badge

        You do know that it's the red states that have more people on food stamps ?

        1. oolor
          Coat

          >You do know that it's the red states that have more people on food stamps ?

          Lets not confuse the issue with facts. Beliefs are more important.

          1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

            Shocking news!

            Education in the richest country in the world is better than in one of the poorest.

            I don't think your arguments get any better from there.

    2. MondoMan

      Strangely enough...

      Interestingly, in the US, it's the poor who are most likely to be obese. Calories are so cheaply available due to industrial-scale food production that activists must now go through ever more intricate contortions and phrasings to pump up their numbers and make it seem as though people in the US still suffer from food shortages that are not secondary to other issues such as mental illness.

      Fasting has become a trendy new health activity here, whether for successive half-days or for part of a week.

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: Strangely enough...

        I've had pretty good luck being satisfied with a sub 1/4lb burger for dinner instead of the Double McDouble Triple with Bacon. The portion sizes here in the US are so unbelievably huge. I watched a fat man and his fat wife and two fat kids eat what must have been half a cow and an acres worth of French fries the other day. If it wasn't so sad it would have been hilarious.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Blonde Jefe Re: Strangely enough...

          "..... I watched a fat man and his fat wife and two fat kids....." Terrible, eh? I mean, the idea of a successful economic model that actually allows the excess of getting fat. I suppose you'd have been happier watching a family of skinny Africans starving to death whilst their politicians build another "workers' paradise", wasting international aid on vanity projects? I know a says admin that used to live in Poland, he remembers standing in the snow for hours to queue to get meat when he was a kid, he remembers going with his parents on hunger protests in 1981. When he came to London he could not believe that you could just go and buy as much food as you wanted. So, yeah, being fat is not good, and the current US and UK economies are not perfect, but they sure beat a lot of alternatives. One of those is the unfortunate side issue of it allows numpties like you to complain about the freedoms of choice you and others are given, but I suppose I can put up with that as long as I have the freedom to laugh at your stupidity.

          1. Don Jefe

            Re: Blonde Jefe Strangely enough...

            There's nothing successful about the model when the bulk (ha!) of fat people are the poor and lower middle class. The idea that corpulence as an indicator of wealth died out in most countries with lead based makeup and aversion to the sun.

            I guess it makes sense though, those highly successful poor people don't have much education under this 'successful' model. They don't know that they'd live longer if they smoked three packs of cigarettes a day and that their kids will be excluded from activities. They don't get a chance to learn those things because the money for a decent education system is spent on military/security garbage and anti-drug enforcement.

            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: Incredilby Obtuse Jefe Re: Blonde Jefe Strangely enough...

              ".....I guess it makes sense though, those highly successful poor people don't have much education under this 'successful' model....." Really? Want to compare public education in the West with say that of Angola? How about comparing it with only a hundred years ago in the US or Europe? The lack-of-education myth is one of the biggest fallacies perpetuated by the handwringers, it is complete baloney. Indeed, the public education system will allow the poorest person in the UK or US to school right from kindergarten through to a degree, with plenty of social aid and support (food stamps, benefits, etc.). The thing is many of the poor CHOOSE not to follow a career path or education because they get hooked on the get-rich-quick, have-luxuries-now mentality and make poor life choices. None of us are immune to it - I could have got better grades at school and uni but I also wanted to have some fun, but I tempered my fun with enough learning to get by. The obvious example of someone that bucked the poor-means-no-options trend is Sir Alan Sugar, who started his business empire selling electrical components out of a van whilst living in a council flat and working for the civil service. On the other hand, the best CEO I worked for left school at fifteen with no formal qualifications, he simply had the attitude required. The lack-of-education myth is just apologist nonsense.

              ".....They don't know that they'd live longer if they smoked three packs of cigarettes a day and that their kids will be excluded from activities....." Your arrogance is astonishing, but typical of the "we-know-what's-good-for-you" crowd. You really think most smokers, poor or rich, don't know that smoking is bad for them? Puh-lease! Once again it is a life choice, they CHOOSE to smoke DESPITE the wealth of warnings. People are not very good at making the most logical choice 100% of the time, they usually cop out on some, and smoking is a very obvious example. Please do try and pretend no-one educated smokes, just for the comedy value.

              ".... They don't get a chance to learn those things because the money for a decent education system is spent on military/security garbage and anti-drug enforcement." Complete cobblers. Once again, you need to step out of your cosy bubble (probably somewhere like Islington or Berkeley), stop assuming you know about people, and get a clue by actually going out and looking at the World. You can find figures for the UK budget here (http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/breakdown), please note the largest consumer of funds is pensions followed by the health service - defence gets about half of what education gets. The figures for the US are on this site (http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/budget_gs.php) and again pension, healthcare and education are higher spending areas than defence. Now please stfu or do better research rather than just rebleating what was spoonfed to you.

      2. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Strangely enough...

        Obesity !=nutrition

  5. swschrad

    and of course, it would be a new line of business

    the history of the Skunk Works is that they always generated something nice when the moths in the safe started getting really, really hungry. but the trend is for the pilot of the future to need a nice comfy seat and a low-noise environment in an office, rather than a high-G suit and a working pee tube.

  6. Vociferous

    Not as pretty as the Blackbird, tho.

    Still the coolest-looking aircraft ever.

    1. asdf Silver badge

      Re: Not as pretty as the Blackbird, tho.

      I always chuckle when I see the X-men flying one on TV. The US government only had a fleet of 20 and even they couldn't afford it (they are ridiculously expensive to build, maintain and fly) except during the money is no object Cold War.

      1. asdf Silver badge

        Re: Not as pretty as the Blackbird, tho.

        The SR71 though may well have helped turn the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

        "On October 13 and 15, Egyptian air defense radars detected an aircraft at an altitude of 25,000 metres (82,000 ft) and a speed of Mach 3, making it impossible to intercept either by fighter or SAM missiles. The aircraft proceeded to cross the whole of the canal zone, the naval ports of the Red Sea (Hurghada and Safaga), flew over the airbases and air defenses in the Nile delta, and finally disappeared from radar screens over the Mediterranean Sea. The speed and altitude were those of the US SR-71 Blackbird, a long-range strategic-reconnaissance aircraft (yeah as if this sentence is necessary, what else could it be in 1973). According to Egyptian commanders, the intelligence provided by the reconnaissance flights helped the Israelis prepare for the Egyptian attack on October 14 and assisted it in conducting Operation Stouthearted Men"

        1. oolor

          Re: Not as pretty as the Blackbird, tho.

          >The SR71 though may well have helped turn the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

          IIRC that flight almost didn't make it back to the tanker.

          1. FrankAlphaXII

            Re: Not as pretty as the Blackbird, tho.

            No, it almost didn't. The same relative who I referenced above was involved in that. Apparently when it mated with the tanker there was no measurable fuel left in the Aircraft, it was literally running on fumes, or at least that's how the story goes.

            With programs like that though its like playing the telephone game, an anecdote takes on a life of its own and turns into a legend as more people hear it and pass it on, making it sound more fantastic than it really was.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. FrankAlphaXII

        Re: Not as pretty as the Blackbird, tho.

        The Air Force had 32 SR-71s, and three armed YF-12 interceptors, one of which was remanufactured into an SR-71 IIRC. The CIA also had 13 A-12 OXCARTs and two M-21 supersonic drone launching aircraft.

        They're all virtually the same design, the major difference between the SR-71 and A-12 was that the camera from the A-12 was taken out and a seat for an RSO (reconnaissance systems operator/officer) was installed where it had been. Also the A-12 used a less powerful engine, though they were upgraded as the more powerful engine became available. I know it was a Pratt & Whitney, but I forget the model number. I have a relative who worked on the A-12 and SR-71 programs for CIA and what's now called the Air Force Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency.

        1. asdf Silver badge

          Re: Not as pretty as the Blackbird, tho.

          > they were upgraded as the more powerful engine became available. I know it was a Pratt & Whitney

          Yeah to me the most impressive part of the SR71 was the power plant. Hell that damn thing is mostly engine with a tiny bit of aircraft wrapped around them and the cockpit. The J58 was an engine the US government somehow in the late 1950s used the Area 51 alien ship to go ten years into the future to bring back. Just kidding but it was seriously ahead of its time. Hell early in the decade we could barely do Mach 1.

          1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

            Re: Not as pretty as the Blackbird, tho.

            "Yeah to me the most impressive part of the SR71 was the power plant. "

            The J58 was (IIRC) originally chosen for a navy fighter that got cancelled.

            Not that technically the ramjet part is not part of the engine but is part of the nacelle, as are the inlet and outlet.

            The whole package working together is what gave the SR71 its performance.

            BTW the only other country that flew turbo ramjet aircraft in the 50s was France.

      3. Paul Westerman

        Re: Not as pretty as the Blackbird, tho.

        In X-Men: First Class the SR-71 not only carries passengers but is VTOL too!

  7. OrsonX
    Boffin

    "too fast for missile"

    Military laser tech seems to be developing quickly, this plane might be redundant before it gets off the ground.

    1. Arctic fox
      Headmaster

      @OrsonX Re: "too fast for missile"

      Military laser tech may well threaten this bird but I would also keep an eye on missile development. After all "too fast to shoot down" was what the CIA thought about the U2 until Soviet air defence shoved a SAM up Gary Powers when the plane was (for the time) at very high speed and altitude.

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: @OrsonX "too fast for missile"

        The U-2 was subsonic. They may have thought it was too high to shoot down, perhaps, but I'm sure they never believed it would outrun any AA missiles that made it to altitude.

      2. Steve Todd

        Re: @OrsonX "too fast for missile"

        The U2 was never considered to be particularly fast. It was subsonic, and flew at an altitude where the difference between stalling and the mechanical limit of the airframe was only 10 knots (and having large, glider like wings this upper limit wasn't going to be close to Mach 1). It was the altitude that was considered to be its defense, and improved SAM missiles that could reach that high that proved them wrong.

      3. cortland

        Re: @OrsonX "too fast for missile"

        Not too fast to shoot down but too high, and Powers' flameout may have been what brought him within reach. In any case, getting higher can yield to a change in boosters, so it had to have been known the U2's usefulness was limited.

        1. Arctic fox
          Thumb Up

          Those who have pointed out that the U2's height was thought of as......

          .... its best defence are of course quite right and I stand corrected. The incident still (as I am sure you would agree) stands as an example of the fact that no tech (military or otherwise) is truly future proof and it is wise to assume that your potential enemies will, sooner rather than later, develop effective counter-measures.

        2. Denarius
          Unhappy

          Re: @OrsonX "too fast for missile"

          @cortland: You are correct. Powers U2 was known to be subject to mechanical problems. There is also the unproven possibility a small bomb damaged the plane in flight. Skunkworks management were already thinking of replacements for U2 because they knew it was only a matter of time before the Russians would get to 60,000 feet in a controlled manner. See Skunkworks, by Ben Rich, the SR71 engine designer.

          The most significant question is what use is the SR72 ? Big boys toys ? What sort of wars are being considered that require high speed reconn ? Yes, satellites have problems, but the two possible big nation states likely to exist in near future would have the resources to hide most of their interesting activities well underground or underwater. Military involvement in recent hell holes has demonstrated decent heavy lift helicopters, long loiter gunships and heavy lifter cargo aircraft were more use supporting the grunts and occasionally, strategy. See ElReg articles on the loss of British troops due to IE because there were not given the promised heavy lift helicopters.

          As for the SR72 donks, IMHO the recent successful hydrocarbon hypersonic fuel tests demonstrate how the scramjets and turbojet engines probably use the same fuel. Keeping electronics coping with heat may also be repurposed shuttle insulation. When scramjests are hitting Mach15 then they might be useful for cheap launch. Better yet mach18, straight to orbit. <quote> Once you are in orbit, you are halfway to anywhere</quote> Robert Heinlein

      4. This post has been deleted by its author

      5. Vociferous

        Re: @OrsonX "too fast for missile"

        It will be interesting to see what the upcoming laser weapons will mean for aircraft. What countermeasures can you employ against a megawatt-class laser?

        1. Steven Raith

          Re: @OrsonX "too fast for missile"

          Cloud cover, surely? Or are they powerful enough to just cut through water vapour without seriously hampering the performance at range these days (attenuation and refraction etc)?

      6. oldcoder

        Re: @OrsonX "too fast for missile"

        NO. The CIA KNEW the U2 wasn't that fast. But it could fly HIGHER than the SAMs could reach up to that time. Its flight ceiling was 70,000 feet.

        The U2 was just a glider with a jet engine...

    2. Don Jefe

      Re: "too fast for missile"

      What, you think that today's 'super weapon' won't be nearly instantly neutralized, possibly by the same company who makes the 'super weapon'? That's where the money is. Just like there's no big money in curing most common diseases, there's no big money in a weapon that can't be neutralized.

      The trick is to be sure you provide both the weapon and the defense system. That way you're guaranteed the sales of both to your primary customer and the 'neutralization' tech to everybody else. That's just good business.

      Regardless of that though, the plane is cool! I would like to see it get built.

    3. DropBear Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: "too fast for missile"

      So I guess chrome is the new black, then? Make it mirror-shiny, ROFL when a laser hits it and bounces right off...? Extra points if you manage to reflect it straight back to its own facility...? ;)

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: "too fast for missile"

        Mirrors? Nah, just use a chrome vinyl wrap, that'll do it.

  8. David Jackson 1

    Remember battlecrusiers?

    "Speed is the new stealth," Al Romig

    "Speed is armour" Admiral John Fisher.

    Hmmmm...........

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Remember battlecrusiers?

      'Speed is Life' - The Israeli Air Force, who have more combat experience than most.

      1. asdf Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Remember battlecrusiers?

        Speed is death in my neck of the woods. Oxycontin as well.

        1. oolor

          Re: Remember battlecrusiers?

          >Speed is death in my neck of the woods

          Of course it is all good when recon pilots take it on missions.

      2. Don Jefe

        Re: Remember battlecrusiers?

        Out of curiosity, what makes you think the Israeli Air Force has a lot of combat experience? The Israeli armed services spend a lot of time within their own borders and manning roadblocks/check points, but they really don't have a lot of experience against organized & armed opponents.

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: Remember battlecrusiers?

          Well, since 1947 they've destroyed ~600 enemy aircraft in air to air combat, and been in 5 major wars/conflicts i.e. the War of Independence, Sinai Conflict, Six Day War, the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War. Not to mention the Entebbe hostage rescue and taking out Iraq's nuclear programme in an air raid.

          I'm unaware of another air force that's been as busy since WW2.

          1. Otto is a bear.

            Re: Remember battlecrusiers?

            Well, I think the US might well dispute that, what with Vietnam ( 200+) and Korea (700+), and a few others since then. I would think the Gulf War was the last serious air to air fight, and that was 20+ aircraft for the coalition forces as a whole.

            More importantly, most genuine experianced air to air combat pilots, even Israeli will have retired from front line service since they were last needed, which I think was the Gulf War.

            1. SkippyBing Silver badge

              Re: Remember battlecrusiers?

              "More importantly, most genuine experianced air to air combat pilots, even Israeli will have retired from front line service since they were last needed"

              It doesn't stop the basic maxims of combat being true though, who do you think writes the manuals?

              Nothing's really changed since WW1 apart from the speed and range of the combatants. Something the US had to relearn during Vietnam, although I grant you they may have more kills than the Israelis. At the same time in terms of relative numbers I'd argue the Israelis have more experience, which comes from the majority of neighbouring countries wanting your destruction. Apparently even this century they've been busy bombing Syrian reactors and shooting down various drones.

              1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                Boffin

                Re: SkippyBing Re: Remember battlecrusiers?

                ".....Nothing's really changed since WW1 apart from the speed and range of the combatants....." Er, not quite. Apart from the fact the turning dogfight of WW1 evolved into the vertical fighting of WW2 (maybe in the Spanish Civil War if you consider the Polikarpov I-16 and Bf109 tactics).

                "....Something the US had to relearn during Vietnam...." The problems for the US fighter jocks in Vietnam was the political limitations put upon them - no BVR (beyond visual range) action. In short, the US had developed missile-armed interceptors like the F-4B, not dogfighters, on the basis that they could shoot down a dogfighter at long range with missiles before it got to a turning dogfight. Their training and equipment was designed for shooting down Russian nuke bombers over Europe or Alaska. In Vietnam, they were told they had to visually confirm a target as a hostile North Vietnamese aircraft (no-one wanted to shoot down a Chinese jet by mistake and start WW3), which meant they then had to close to a range where the North Vietnamese jets could dogfight, and the Vietnamese were largely using old MiG-17s and MiG-19s - poor BVR interceptors but good dogfighters. The US pilots also had a problem that their missiles had a minimum range and the F-4B jocks had no cannon! So the US Army and Navy pilots had to "relearn" how to dogfight, and the US manufacturers had to modify their jets into dogfighters (the F-4E got dogtooth leading edge extensions for better turnrate, more power for zeroing out whilst going vertical, and a Vulcan 20mm cannon).

                The one thing that has not changed since WW1 is that the pilot that "sees" their opponent first is usually the one that wins, but even this is different nowadays as the "seeing" is often done by long-range radar, IR sensors or long-range TV. During the Iraq wars, AWACs over the Persian Gulf could watch Iraqi MiGs taking off from their bases and guide F-15s for a quick dashes into position for perfect missile solutions, no need for turning dogfights. The much maligned Tornado F4 won many NATO exercises by "shooting down" opponents at long range.

                1. SkippyBing Silver badge

                  Re: SkippyBing Remember battlecrusiers?

                  "the turning dogfight of WW1 evolved into the vertical fighting of WW2"

                  I was thinking more of the basic employment of the fighter, which the RAF had to relearn during the Battle of Britain having come up with a range of frankly barking tactics during the 20s and 30s.

                  " Their training and equipment was designed for shooting down Russian nuke bombers over Europe or Alaska."

                  So yes, they had to relearn basic fighter manoeuvre , hence Top Gun and the USAF Aggressor program.

                  " but even this is different nowadays as the "seeing" is often done by long-range radar, IR sensors or long-range TV."

                  Thanks I did wonder what all that equipment hanging of the front of my helicopter was for, who knew it was for long range "seeing". As I said, the basics are the same it's the speed and range that's increased, including the detection range.

                  Going back to the US kills in Vietnam, they may have claimed ~200 kills but they did lose almost 10 times that, whereas the Israelis have lost 18 aircraft in air to air combat since 1948.

                  1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                    Stop

                    Re: SkippyBing Remember battlecrusiers?

                    "....I was thinking more of the basic employment of the fighter, which the RAF had to relearn during the Battle of Britain having come up with a range of frankly barking tactics during the 20s and 30s....." Again, wrong. The Fighting Area attack tactics had been designed as part of the RAF's groundbreaking interceptor premise - in the requirement F.9/26 of 1926 the RAF were the first airforce to envision a fast-climbing fighter under ground control, courtesy of radio, as the means of intercepting unescorted bombers, rather than the wasteful practice of fighter patrols. The British built the best aerial defence system of its day, especially when the integrated control and observer system had radar added to it, but it was designed for attacking unescorted bombers. The problem was no-one anticipated that the Frogs would fold faster than week-old lettuce and let the Germans put fighter bases within escorting range of the UK mainland, so interceptor tactics were still designed for shooting down bombers. When the German bombers weren't around the RAF still managed to shoot down plenty of German fighters because the RAF pilots still practiced plenty of dogfighting. Indeed, historians have sifted the records and put the BoB score as 1,887 German aircraft destroyed for 1,547 RAF aircraft (including RAF bombers), so it looks like the RAF did better, despite the Area Attack tactics. You should try reading beyond the headlines.

                    "......So yes, they had to relearn basic fighter manoeuvre , hence Top Gun and the USAF Aggressor program....." Headlines again. The USAF's F-100 Super Sabres had no problems dogfighting MiGs (scored 3-0 in the first USAF engagement with MiGs) because they had plenty of practice, it was only the Phantom jocks whose training had neglected dogfighting. The USAF had not "forgotten" dogfighting, they simply had not trained all their pilots thoroughly in it. Similarly, the USN's F-8 Crusader jocks had no problems, having the best kill ratio of any Yank fighter in the War (19:3). The only US pilots that needed retraining were the F-4 interceptor pilots that had been trained intensively on SAR Sparrow missile intercepts. A lot of the fuss around Top Gun is marketing as it is used as a revenue generator by the USN selling training to foreign airforces, just as the RAF sells their training program.

                    ".....Thanks I did wonder what all that equipment hanging of the front of my helicopter was for.....". Ah, a slow-moving groundhugging blenderdriver, no wonder you got it wrong.

                    ".....As I said, the basics are the same it's the speed and range that's increased, including the detection range....." Still very, very wrong. The WW1 pilot had to relie on the Eyeball Mk1, and had only very limited communication with even his wingman (hand signals only) and virtually none with the ground (AA pointer shells at best). When he engaged he usually fired a single or pair of rifle-calibre machineguns at 50-100m. The F-15s over Iraq sometimes never even saw the Iraqi MiGs they shot down. Now imagine a pilotless drone, guided into position by a remote AWACs, not having to do any tight turning because it can pop a target with an AMRAAM over the horizon in cloud in the middle of the night. The ability to dash into the target zone at Mach 6 will only lessen the chances of the enemy even being able to think of avoiding the drone. Bit of a change since WW1.

                    ".....Going back to the US kills in Vietnam, they may have claimed ~200 kills but they did lose almost 10 times that....." The majority of US aircraft lost in Vietnam were to SAMs, AAA and ground fire. Even with the initial problems of being trained primarily for missile intercept, and with the constraint of no BVR engagements, the Phantom still managed a 3:1 kill ratio in air combat over Vietnam (and that includes bomb-laden F-4s jumped by MiGs). The Israelis managed between 5:1 and 15:1 with Phantoms throughout their use as a frontline fighter, but mainly because they had a much more favourable tactical environment and also because they did not have any BVR restrictions. See how a little research before tryping helps?

                    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

                      Re: SkippyBing Remember battlecrusiers?

                      Matt, I'll try and ignore the ad hominem attacks in my response.

                      Did the UK have the best air defence network in the world at the start of the BoB? Yes, however my point was that their plan for the use of the fighter once the intercept was coordinated was poor, i.e. having a section of fighters take it in turns to line up behind the enemy bomber and engage it while the tail gunner had a perfect shot. Never mind the original concept of use for the turret fighter. My point was that they had to rapidly relearn the basics such as operating as a number of two ships rather than having a whole squadron try and manoeuvre its way around the sky in formation.

                      Similarly in Vietnam the aircraft that performed best in air to air combat were the older ones as they'd been taught it, whereas it had been assumed the Phantom would never need to under the new concept of operations. Hence the response of setting up Top Gun et al as a response to the poor performance of the F-4 in the air to air arena, or are you saying it was set up for different reasons? It's a particularly literal reading of my post to assume I meant the entire USAF had forgotten about dog fighting. My point was they'd had to do something to address the lack of ACM training for a large part of their fleet as they'd thought it was no longer relevant to the next generation of aircraft.

                      I'm not sure how you prove I'm very wrong to say " it's the speed and range that's increased, including the detection range" and then go on to say how the range of various sensors and weapons has increased, like I said it had.

                      Regarding kill ratios there are various ways of reading the results in South East Asia, and it's hard to know the true story. For instance after the engagement where Cunningham and Driscoll became the USN's only F-4 aces they had to eject due to damage sustained in combat. The US don't count that as a kill for the NVAF as it happened after the encounter, whereas they'd be quite happy to count a NVAF aircraft that crashed on landing as a kill for anyone who'd fired shots at it.

                      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                        Facepalm

                        Re: SkippyBing Remember battlecrusiers?

                        "....I'll try and ignore the ad hominem attacks in my response...." Maybe you should concentrate on the ad hominems seeing as you're still struggling on the facts.

                        ".....having a section of fighters take it in turns to line up behind the enemy bomber and engage it while the tail gunner had a perfect shot....." That was Fighter Attack No.1, for attack of a single enemy bomber from astern and co-height. There we six Fighter Attacks in all, many designed around the idea of a vic of three RAF fighters attacking a kette of three bombers at once, therefore splitting the defensive fire. The tight vic was seen as the best way to maintain formation and avoid a collission in the cloudy skies over the UK. But frontline squadrons were already trying other formations before the BoB, an example being Stanford Tuck leading the Spitfires of 92 Squadron in pairs over Dunkirk in May 1940. You might want to know the Luftwaffe tactics for attacking RAF bombers were even less technical and many 109s were shot down taking turns attacking Blenheims and even the Fairy Battles over France. The Jadgwaffe didn't put serious thought into formation daylight fighter-vs-bomber attacks until 1942 and the advent of the first 8th Air Force raids. They then found out how far behind the RAF they had fallen.

                        ".....Never mind the original concept of use for the turret fighter....." Again, you've been too busy reading the headlines, you need to read a bit more indepth. When the Defiant was repurposed as nightfighter it had the highest kill-per-contact ratio of all the RAF nightfighters right up until the late model Mosquitos. When the Defiant met unescorted day bombers in 1940 it was just as effective as the Hurricane or Spitfire, it was only when it tangled with the 109s that the design had serious trouble. But then the turret fighter concept was intended for the daylight interception of unescorted bombers, not dogfighting.

                        "....My point was that they had to rapidly relearn the basics such as operating as a number of two ships rather than having a whole squadron try and manoeuvre its way around the sky in formation....." Er, what? Even after switching to pairs and even the finger four formation, the RAF still often operated in squadrons or even whole wings. They didn't just wander about the sky in unco-ordinated pairs.

                        ".....Similarly in Vietnam the aircraft that performed best in air to air combat were the older ones as they'd been taught it....." Nope. The Super Sabre and Crusader carried cannon and short-range Sidewinder AAMs only, so they concentrated on training for using those weapons. The F-4 jocks had been trained mainly on Sparrow BVR engagements, but they still had training some training in dogfighting with Sidewinders.

                        "....whereas it had been assumed the Phantom would never need to under the new concept of operations......" Correct in that both the USN and USAF thought they would be allowed to engage at range with SAR Sparrows.

                        ".....Hence the response of setting up Top Gun et al as a response to the poor performance of the F-4 in the air to air arena, or are you saying it was set up for different reasons?....." The "poor performance" of the F-4 has been ridiculously over-hyped. Even at their worst the F-4Bs and Cs were scoring a 2:1 kill ratio before Top Gun or modifications. The units in the field simply switched tactics and it was NEW pilots being trained for F-4s in the States that got training with more emphasis on dogfighting. USN ace Randy Cunningham shot down MiG ace Nguyen Van Coc in a prolonged dogfight whilst flying an F-4J (basically an upgraded F-4B) without attending Top Gun. And the whole problem only started because of the restriction on BVR engagements, another example of political meddling. The difference between the USN's F-4 jocks and the F-8 drivers was the latter had all been trained under the old FAGU regime which was recycled to produce Top Gun.

                        ".....For instance after the engagement where Cunningham and Driscoll became the USN's only F-4 aces they had to eject due to damage sustained in combat....." Cunningham's F-4 was hit by a SAM on the return from the engagement, Van Coc didn't land a single hit on the F-4. Once again, try a little research.

      3. petboy

        Re: Remember battlecrusiers?

        "'Speed is Life' - The Israeli Air Force"

        All pilots say that. Stop moving and you stop flying as your wings stop generating lift (*)

        The second part of the saying is " and Altitude is life insurance". Since you can convert height to speed by diving (i.e. gliding if the engine stops).

        That isn't to say it doesn't also hold true for avoiding the missiles of course as if you are high and fast then the interceptor has to go a long way both vertically and laterally in order to close with you.

        However, as radars operate line of sight if you cruise along at 100,000 feet you are making it very easy for the enemy to spot you coming from a long long way. So they have plenty of time to get their missile to the same altitude.

        The U-2 incident was a nasty shock as no-one thought the Soviets had updated their WWII lend-lease radar units to see above 60,000 feet. Turns out they had and in fact, today you can't get high enough to avoid detection. Hence the old idea of hugging the ground to use the "line of sight" limitation on the radar - it can't see round the curvature of the earth. But an AWACS can. As can a satellite if you are hoofing along at Mach 6 leaving a thermal trail visible from space. In fact, this aircraft would almost certainly be bright enough to trip ICBM launch detection satellites.

        So unfortunately there is no altitude at which the aircraft can avoid being detected from several hundred miles away.

        That means you only hope is to be travelling so fast there isn't time to put a missile in the air.

        Unfortunately there are already claimed Mach-12 missiles out there (The S-400, http://www.dtig.org/docs/S-300_Familie.pdf).

        Since space launch requires around Mach 25, a Mach 12 SAM is not unreasonable even if its performance has been slightly exaggerated. More importantly with 20 years to get ready, taking a Mach 25 ICBM and converting it to a SAM is not going to be a huge stretch.

        So we have an aircraft which is visible around half an hour before it arrives overhead and is flying at about between one half to one quarter the speed of any intercepting missile.

        I wouldn't bank on gaining any useful intelligence from it ...

        (*) Unless the wings themselves are doing the moving, i.e. a helicopter

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Remember battlecrusiers?

      Planners are always fighting the last major battle. Fisher hadn't realised that line of battle ships could now fight at extreme range, meaning that arriving shells were at very high angles and what armour there was, was in the wrong place. The question here is, what current developments in technology have the SR-72 planners failed to anticipate being used in a military scenario?

  9. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  10. loneranger

    The TR-3B is a lot more interesting, and faster. This looks like another dog-and-pony show to distract the public from the real thing.

    1. Terry Cloth
      Coat

      TR-3B

      More fun, and better-looking in its field, but is the TR-3B really faster? Methinks not.

      1. loneranger

        Re: TR-3B

        Umm, the TR-3 Triumph auto is not as fast, you're right. I was referring to the USAF Black Triangle craft which has actually been around since the 90's or maybe even earlier. It can make the SR-72 eat it "dust"; which is why I said this talk about a mach 6 plane is laughable. The USAF (and probably Britain, France, and Russia too) has craft that can move like lightning.

        Watch the Disclosure videos with testimony from high-ranking ex-military, NASA, and government officials if you doubt it. Only the dunces who stick their heads in the sand and insist that it has to be swamp gas still believe otherwise. The evidence is overwhelming. All you have to do is start looking instead of hiding.

  11. ravenviz

    Yes but can it speed tank a gate camp into low-sec?

    1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      I don't know....

      ...but it can do the Kessel run in 12 parsecs...

      1. ravenviz
        Boffin

        Re: I don't know....

        Probably under 12 I reckon!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Always cool to see stuff like this.

    Shame the US has nearly 18 trillion of debt.

    What is it they say when you've overdrawn all your credit cards?

    Something about not spending any more money on non-essentials I think.

    1. Greg J Preece

      Something about not spending any more money on non-essentials I think.

      Of course, the problem we've had for years is convincing the Americans that their grossly OTT armed forces are "non-essential".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes. Debts in dollars. Dollars that they print.

      Inflation is the constraint - not debt.

      There is no inflation.

      This is an ideal project for government funding.

      1. Vociferous

        > Debts in dollars. Dollars that they print. Inflation is the constraint - not debt. There is no inflation.

        I've often wondered how this simple point can be so impossible to explain to americans?

        1. Gary Bickford

          No inflation?

          "Officially". That must be why essentially the same car today costs 10 times what it cost 40 years ago. (OK, accounting for new features, call it 5 times.) And why my purchasing power is about the same - house prices, rents, food, etc. - today as it was in 1978, even though I now make about 7 times what I made then. And why my salary today is about 1.5 times what it was in 1999, but I have _less_ purchasing power.

          Yes, this is a mix of approximate statistical data and anecdotal evidence. :)

        2. F111F

          I've often wondered how this simple point can be so impossible to explain to Democrats.

          There, fixed it for you.

          1. Tom 13

            Re: There, fixed it for you.

            The only difference between the RINOs running the Republican party and the Dems is the magnitude of the borrowing in which they want to engage. Part of the reason they got slaughtered after 6 years of Bush was Tom Delay remarking we'd already cut everything there was to cut.

        3. Tom 13

          @ Vociferous

          Americans understand it. It's the Congresscritters that don't.

          Unfortunately, we've also expand the percentage of takers beyond the number of givers so from here it looks like it doesn't get fixed until we repeat the first year Mass. Bay Colony experiment all over. Except this time we're interlocked with the whole world so it won't just be an isolated colony at risk. But hey, we're just following your European lead.

    3. AdamM

      Debt in terms of government spending is a bit more complicated than just hey look at all this debt!

      Debt needs to be looked at when compared to the size of the economy. Which in the US is about 15.7tn USD.

      Our debt to GDP ratio is better than most other western countries, and our credit rating was downgraded not because of our debt, but because individuals were risking unnecessary default over it.

      Slicing budgets indiscriminately tends to make the situation worst. Slowing down the economy and resulting in less tax receipts.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > Debt needs to be looked at when compared to the size of the economy. Which in the US is about 15.7tn USD.

        That size is almost all consumer expenditure financed almost eclusively by consumer debt.

        You only have to look at the massive trade imbalance to see that must be true.

        It is a fake figure conjured out of thin air by the fed.

        It won't look so great in about 6 months time when the fed fails to increase the debt ceiling because no-one will lend to the US any further. At that point, the economy will crash and it will all go to shit.

        After seeing President Obama postulate on TV that increasing the debt ceiling is not increasing their debt but allowing them to pay their bills, I'm not confident that he really understands anything about the US economy or its dire situation.

        1. Gary Bickford

          The one hitch in your argument is that the Fed is presently buying up all the debt that other parties won't buy, and it can and will increase that to whatever extent it finds necessary. Bernanke's lifelong professorial expertise was on government policy and the Great Depression, and he is absolutely convinced that an essentially infinite amount of government largesse can be used to prevent depressions. He's wrong, of course. All he is doing is ignoring second and third order effects, postponing the inevitable, and making the pain last longer and making the final crash more painful. See Venezuela, and Argentina (three times since 1900), etc.

    4. Gary Bickford

      Debt? Who cares?

      If you listen to Bernanke and Geitner, there's no reason for a debt limit - it doesn't matter how much we borrow. "Whee! Let's print more money!!" (sigh.)

  13. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    For this aircraft to be built....

    ...it will need a justification. A justification in terms of a threat.

    Look for US foreign policy to continue stating that 'nasty foreigners living on the other side of the world hate us because of our democracy'. I wonder who it'll be next time? Because you can't really claim that you need this to fight Afghanistan.....

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: For this aircraft to be built....

      "...it will need a justification. A justification in terms of a threat."

      A threat like refusing the US any more credit?

    2. Gary Bickford

      Re: For this aircraft to be built....

      Actually I think the enemy this is designed for is Russia and China, and someday perhaps even India. Remember "nations do not have friends, they only have interests" - adapted from a remark by Lord Palmerston, 1864. A 2030 deployment is 17 or so years from now. Both Russia and China are rapidly working on improving, increasing and advancing their military tech. So is India, mostly in response to China and Pakistan.

      I think this tech is basically setting out a benchmark that tells these nations, if they want to play war, they are going to have to ante up at this level.

      But also, and more interestingly for me, this technology appears to be a very good basis for either single or dual stage to orbit reusable launch systems. Using the present rocket based systems, about 1/2 of the fuel used is burned just getting to Mach 1, and between 3/4 and 7/8 or higher getting to Mach 5. Then all that hardware is dropped into the ocean. So a first stage based on this technology has the potential to greatly decrease cost, and increase convenience, of space launch systems. It might very well be the final key to orbital hotels, orbital manufacturing, lunar mining, etc.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        @Gary Bickford

        " "nations do not have friends, they only have interests" - adapted from a remark by Lord Palmerston, 1864. "

        I think you'll find the quote is "Nations do not have permanent friends, only permanent interests" and it's by Disraeli.

        "But also, and more interestingly for me, this technology appears to be a very good basis for either single or dual stage to orbit reusable launch systems."

        Is it happens DARPA will be holding an open day on the 11th for a M10 1st stage launch system.

        A launch mission runs about 10 mins. A cruise mission runs hours. Design options for a 1st stage LV would be unthinkable in a cruise mission. If it works at all Spacex's RLV tech will be running long before this is flying.

  14. bholder

    Holy Aurora, Batman! :D

  15. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

    I would opine that, since Lockheed Martin is publishing stuff about this, they've already lost the argument with the DoD as to whether they'll get funded for it.

    The current tack looks like "persuade the voters to support Congress funding this", which is a very poor second place to "the DoD wants this really really badly, and even better we should keep the development under wraps so just slip it into the black budget, thakyouverymuch". The latter, of course, being how the SR-71 got built.

    1. Gary Bickford

      I'm guessing that when Blackswift was cancelled, the funding was actually continued in various 'black' budget items. At the time of Blackswift the technology was getting close but still very iffy. Now Lockheed has basically said, "We're building this." There's probably $1BB difference between those two states of development.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I would opine that, since Lockheed Martin is publishing stuff about this, they've already lost the argument with the DoD as to whether they'll get funded for it."

      Maybe they didn't get funding because the spooks have something else already.

  16. stuartnz
    Meh

    It's 0 for 2

    As impressive as it is, it loses to "the older, more pedestrian" model in two important regards in my authoritatively subjective opinion:

    First, it's nowhere near as beautiful - of course no aircraft is, since the SR-71 may be one of the most beautiful machines ever built.

    Second: It's intended to carry weapons. I loved that the gorgeous Blackbird only shot photos. It allowed the conscientious objector in me to admire it pretty much guilt-free. Aesthetically and ethically, there's a lot less for me to admire about the SR-72.

    1. AdamM

      Re: It's 0 for 2

      Well I would say that military craft is meant to be function over form. A pretty aircraft doesn't look all so pretty after being riddled with bullet holes or having a wing blown off.

      In terms of carrying weapons the original craft was meant to spot weaknesses without being seen so even though it didn't originally kill anyone it aided in making that task easier for another craft.

      1. stuartnz

        Re: It's 0 for 2

        Oh yes, I know the SR-71 was definitely a military plane whose photos were intended for a kill wall not a Facebook wall, but it was still nice to be able to pretend otherwise. :)

  17. Herby Silver badge

    Maybe...

    Bill Gates can afford to drop medical supplies from one. You never know.

    1. stuartnz

      Re: Maybe...

      An interesting approach - using high-speed impact to kill the malaria virus. (and its host, but omelettes and eggs) :D

      1. Mephistro Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Maybe...

        Yes, we all know they're already removing lots sick people using drones. They are also removing lots of healthy people, but, as you said, omelettes and eggs.

  18. Steve Crook

    Already flying...

    It's either a bluff to try and scare the Chinese, or they're already flying something like them.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: Already flying...

      Yeah, me too!

      "The company is so discreet it would make a Trappist monk look loquacious, and going public in this way is a sign that the firm is confident in its calculations."

      That, to my mind, rather than has been suggested by others means they lost the argument with DoD, I'drather suggest that they either already have or are very close to having something else These are the people that announce a new product 10 years after it began operational duties.

    2. oolor

      Re: Already flying...

      Or they have already worked out that it is too expensive and have found some constraint that won't go away so they can use it to bait the Chinese to 'steal' the plans so they go waste loads of money trying to develop it. One thing for sure, China is not going to blink.

      As for a replacement, there have been reports of unexplained triggerings of earthquate detection equipment in the area around Edwards going back many years. Perhaps it is a replacement for the replacement.

  19. agricola
    Boffin

    The comment Eric Snowden made popular: "Don't believe anything, or anybody..." was always true.

    I worked in the aerospace industry (company redacted) during the extremely active phase of the SR-71. It is common knowledge that whatever specifications were admitted to by the contractor or contractee were off the mark by almost any number you'd like to guess.

    What do you think of whatever 'facts' will be admitted to regarding the SR-72?

  20. Graham Marsden

    Ok, the SR-71 was cool looking and black...

    ... but, come on, guys, what about the Concorde?!

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: Ok, the SR-71 was cool looking and black...

      Concorde was a gorgeous technological triumph, but as a commercial airliner it was doomed as soon as the 747 appeared. While it halved the flight time across the Atlantic, it only cut 30-40% off the desk-to-desk travel time*. And no matter how luxurious the leather seats and how much champagne, caviar and foie gras they tried to stuff down your throat, the cabin was less spacious than a modern regional jet.

      But the killer was that the (first generation) 747 needed a full First cabin to make it economic, and running an SST fleet alongside cannibalised your First passengers. So you couldn't run both, and airlines preferred the 747. This was understood in the early 70s, five years before Concorde entered service.

      * Although we didn't have all the security checks that irritate air travellers today, we didn't have the Heathrow Express either.

      1. jason 7 Silver badge

        Re: Ok, the SR-71 was cool looking and black...

        Well I would say better video conferencing tech and 9/11 killed off Concorde but there you go.

        1. Chris Miller

          Re: Ok, the SR-71 was cool looking and black...

          9/11 may have been the final nail in the coffin, but (sadly) only 14 production models were built (compared with 1400+ 747s). That's not a commercial success, by any standard.

          1. jason 7 Silver badge

            Re: Ok, the SR-71 was cool looking and black...

            Indeed, all the powerful lobbying and FUD by Boeing to getting Concorde kicked out didn't help much either.

            Messy business.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Roughly 66 years will have passed between both planes making their maiden flight and all they can get is almost twice the speed?

    1. poopypants

      If you plot speed against difficulty, then after a while it looks more exponential than linear. This will become even more obvious should mankind one day make machines that can travel at velocities approaching the speed of light.

      1. cortland

        Let us not by any means make light of speed!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yes but until more recently you haven't seen the aviation sector trying to go faster; the 50's and 60's is where that all happened and then for the most part nothing. So for 40 years no improvements were being achieved. If they continued, Mach 6 would have been done years ago.

      3. Gary Bickford

        At about 1/2 light speed, according to something I read yesterday, interstellar dust particles will have a relative effective mass equivalent to a medium-sized artillery shell - every few centimeters of travel. And the energy released after impact with the hull will be mostly in the form of high speed particles and X-rays. I figure that the ideal interstellar ship will have about 1/4 mile of water shield in the front of it - protons are the best for shielding, and water has a lot of hydrogen. And that's not counting the thrust required to counteract all that drag.

        1. Mephistro Silver badge

          "At about 1/2 light speed, according to something I read yesterday, interstellar dust particles will have a relative effective mass equivalent to a medium-sized artillery shell "

          You may want to check your sources. If my memory doesn't fail me, you need to go faster than 0.9 c to just double the apparent mass.

  22. roger stillick
    Black Helicopters

    Cruise Missile Replacement ??

    The current crop of operational cruise missiles in the US Navy and Air Force are sub-sonic and a little long in the tooth...

    The US Navy is on record = asking Darpa for a hypersonic cruise missile design with at least the range , reliability, and accuracy of the currently deployed ones...

    Russia's hypersonic cruise missile is deployed on at least one retrofitted ship, currently in the Black sea...

    We really have no plans to replace the existing weapons any time soon....

    IMHO= Lockheed skunk works works on a lot of stuff, some even gets deployed...Hughes used to build similar twin engine recon one-offs...RS

  23. ecofeco Silver badge
    Alien

    It's a sign alright

    A sign they've already done it.

    They almost never talk about anything until after it's a fact, but couch it in terms that seem like it is in the works and coming at some future date.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: It's a sign alright

      Its a sign they think they are at a point where they can get massive funding for it - not necessarily ever succeed.

  24. jason 7 Silver badge

    So might be ready by 2030....

    ...so lets be honest and say 2035 at the earliest so by that time...........

    Nowadays if you cant get it done in less than 10 years you are wasting your money as something else will have passed it by.

    However, as mentioned what we get to know about is usually the stuff from 10+ years ago......

  25. OldCabanaGuy

    Mach 6? Lasers travel at Mach 873,500. Terrestrial tin can't have a bright future.

  26. Randall Shimizu

    The SR-72 is a impressive concept. The problem is that it the projected production will not be available until 2030. So more funds are needed for R&D to accelerate the project. By the time the SR-72 becomes available the plane could be outdated by competing planes. The one good thing is that scramjet development is continuing

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Boscome Down

    Does anyone know what 'crashed' at boscombe back in 94? nearly 20 years on and nothing much acknowledged yet..

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Re: Boscome Down

      I'd heard that it might have been a YF-23 (failed competitor to the F-22) or something very similar in configuration.

  28. tempemeaty

    I love the idea but I'm not holding my breath

    I must be getting cynical in my old age. It would be nice if Skunk Works had a SR-72 or was working on one. I've seen a lot of articles about what the next big SR-71 replacement would be like. I start to get very doubtful though. If Skunk Works does an actual SR-72 it would be cool. I'm not holding my breath...

  29. M Gale
    Black Helicopters

    "had its funding removed in 2008...."

    You mean "was completed in 2008, but now we'll let you know what we've had flying for years, in case Snowden leaks it anyway, besides, we already have a better model"?

    See icon.

  30. Dramoth

    Huh...

    They are trying to pass off a dumb arsed drone as being better than the SR71... a plane that was designed in the 1960s and was never surpassed as a THE surveillance plane in the world. You have to love tech that was designed when engineers were still using slide rules (which I learnt how to use way back when) and used to write out their calculations on a blackboard to proof them.

    I dont know which world is better... the one where we invented all this shit or the modern day version where they pretend to invent shit!

    1. JamesTQuirk

      Re: Huh...

      I suppose it matters depending on wheather your a suspect or not, or in the same bus as them ?

      I hope it's used for space ....

  31. Lapun Mankimasta

    Of course, when we're talking in 2013 about things happening in 2018 - 1023, we need to remember, this is the US we're talking about, and it's currently bleeding red ink like there's no tomorrow, which guarantees there won't be ... maybe in the next turning of the Wheel of Time they might get it right - in ample time for once.

    Pity. But we've almost reached the punch-line of a Seventies USAF joke, that by the time the millennium rolls over, the USAF will be sharing the one aircraft with the Navy and the Marines on alternative weekends.

  32. MrRoland

    already legacy

    Seeing that the Chinese already have in development a range of systems to counter anything up to sub-orbital heights and satellite systems, its not a stretch to believe should this go into production there would be something very able to bring it down. Since Kelly Johnson retired, Lockheed just are not the same efficient company. The SR72 would be massively over budget, late and not as good as advertised - just like the F35 programme!

  33. Sokolik
    Facepalm

    Wrong place

    For any number of reasons wasting time and space to enumerate, this project is valid but should be with NASA, not the Blue Zoo.

    -- a Blue Zoo former officer, decorated and service characterized as honorable

  34. Tank boy
    Unhappy

    Ridiculous

    "Speed is the new stealth". Well, no shit. Worked like a fucking charm when the SR-71 was still active, feel like crypt-keeping to keep your company afloat and relevant? What a load of horseshit. The USAF just wants more money, so lets call it what it is.

  35. rvt

    Can anybody explain why it takes so long to build? All technology they are planning touse already exists nowadays, so why the additional time?

  36. Dries Marais
    Thumb Down

    Back to Aero Dynamics

    So the discussion left the technical field and landed n the social domain again.

    Geez.. a shared intake AND a shared nozzle between the scramjet and turbine that actually works? And THAT intake shown in the pic can manage Mach 6 airflow? Wow. AND a scramjet that can burn longer than just a few seconds? Amazing guys, those clever Americans.

    Dries Marais

    South Africa

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shouldn't it get shorter as it moves faster?

    OK, just kidding with the title, but anyone informed enough here care to elaborate on the "At Mach 6 the aircraft will heat up considerably and also stretch out" - is this purely thermal expansion or something else?

    1. Dries Marais

      Re: Shouldn't it get shorter as it moves faster?

      Budgets get stretched out considerably anytime the proposed speed of a flying machine goes beyond Mach 2.2, and one can imagine that the growth in girth - where area ruling had been evident in earlier times - will be quite visible at M=6.0.

      Imagine the fuel consumption if they can get a scramjet to sustain itself for longer than a minute (which already is orders of magnitude longer than present ability). The fleet of tankers and particularly the suppprt logistics needed for a long out and back trip of the SR 71 was well known. The USAF simply will NEVER have the resouces to support this dream.

  38. Alistair MacRae

    Looks like the Normandy from Mass Effect

    Maybe not in the first pic, but definitely in the side profile picture.

  39. a_mu

    SR71 was a flop

    Please remember,

    the SR71 NEVER flew in anger,

    Its a fantastic 'plane' , I tremble when I touched the A12 on the carrier in NewYork, its that sort of a plane,

    but for the reconnaissance job it was intended, over the USSR ,it never flew.

    By the time it got into the air, it was to slow and low.

    The U2 , just kept on going,

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