The Lockheed Martin Skunk Works revealed a hypersonic aircraft design that can take off and land conventionally using turbine-based combined-cycle engine technology. The company said it has been working with rocket propulsion specialists Aerojet for several years on the project, using company funds. Although the design could lead to a Mach 6 unmanned strike aircraft, Lockheed Martin has dubbed it the SR-72, after the company’s SR-71 Blackbird manned strategic reconnaissance aircraft that reached Mach 3 but was retired in 1997.
Development of the Akash tactical surface-to-air missile system, the first indigenous SAM to be inducted into the Indian military (for both the air force and army), has been a valuable learning process for Indian engineers, according to deputy project director G. Chandramouli.
HyperMach Aerospace announced a new configuration for its SonicStar supersonic business jet (SSBJ) that it claims will boost the aircraft’s top speed by about 12 percent to Mach 4.5, while increasing range by 500 nm, to 6,500 nm. At its planned high-Mach cruise speed of Mach 4.4 at FL620, the SonicStar would be able to fly from New York to Dubai in only two hours and eight minutes.
EADS has unveiled two new futuristic “Flightpath 2050” aircraft. The Zero Emission Hyper Sonic Transport (ZEHST) would fly above the atmosphere to avoid dumping pollutants in it, except for a relatively small amount during takeoff. The descent would be a unpowered glide, apart from restarting the engines for the final approach and landing. A steep climb on takeoff would leave a relatively small noise footprint around the airport.
Intended to arm the ‘Euro-canards’ (Gripen, Rafale and Typhoon) and possibly integrate into the RAF’s JSFs, the MBDA Meteor ramjet-powered missile is taking giant strides towards service entry. Recent successful guided firings have paved the way for trials of production-representative missiles, keeping the program on track for an in-service date of 2013.
The MBDA Meteor ramjet, active radar homing air-to-air missile (AAM) program is still alive and kicking, but has had to focus its efforts on meeting the deadlines imposed by the original December 2002 contract in order to avoid cancellation penalties.