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Aurora secret hypersonic aircraft (extension of X-15 project)

This is a discussion on Aurora secret hypersonic aircraft (extension of X-15 project) within the Air Force & Aviation forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; Aurora Background Does the United States Air Force or one of America's intelligence agencies have a secret hypersonic aircraft capable ...


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Old July 16th, 2005   #1
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Aurora secret hypersonic aircraft (extension of X-15 project)

Aurora

Background

Does the United States Air Force or one of America's intelligence agencies have a secret hypersonic aircraft capable of a Mach 6 performance? Continually growing evidence suggests that the answer to this question is yes. Perhaps the most well-known event which provides evidence of such a craft's existence is the sighting of a triangular plane over the North Sea in August 1989 by oil-exploration engineer Chris Gibson. As well as the famous "skyquakes" heard over Los Angeles since the early 1990s, found to be heading for the secret Groom Lake installation in the Nevada desert, numerous other facts provide an understanding of how the aircraft's technology works. Rumored to exist but routinely denied by U.S. officials, the name of this aircraft is Aurora.
The outside world uses the name Aurora because a censor's slip let it appear below the SR-71 Blackbird and U-2 in the 1985 Pentagon budget request. Even if this was the actual name of the project, it would have by now been changed after being compromised in such a manner.
The plane's real name has been kept a secret along with its existence. This is not unfamiliar though, the F-117a stealth fighter was kept a secret for over ten years after its first pre-production test flight. The project is what is technically known as a Special Access Program (SAP). More often, such projects are referred to as "black programs".
So what was the first sign of the existence of such an aircraft? On 6 March 1990, one of the United States Air Force's Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird spyplanes shattered the official air speed record from Los Angeles to Washington's Dulles Airport. There, a brief ceremony marked the end of the SR-71's operational career. Officially, the SR-71 was being retired to save the $200-$300 million a year it cost to operate the fleet. Some reporters were told the plane had been made redundant by sophisticated spy satellites.
But there was one problem, the USAF made no opposition towards the plane's retirement, and congressional attempts to revive the program were discouraged. Never in the history of the USAF had a program been closed without opposition. Aurora is the missing factor to the silent closure of the SR-71 program.
Testing such a new radical aircraft brings immense costs and inconvenience, not just in the design and development of a prototype aircraft, but also in providing a secret testing place for aircraft that are obviously different from those the public are aware of.

Groom Dry Lake, in the Nevada desert, is home to one of America's elite secret proving grounds. Here is Aurora's most likely test location. Comparing today's Groom Lake with images of the base in the 1970s, it is apparent that many of the larger buildings and hangars were added during the following decade. Also, the Groom Lake test facility has a lake-bed runway that is six miles long, twice as long as the longest normal runways in the United States. The reason for such a long runway is simple: the length of a runway is determined either by the distance an aircraft requires to accelerate to flying speed, or the distance that the aircraft needs to decelerate after landing. That distance is proportional to the speed at which lift-off takes place. Usually, very long runways are designed for aircraft with very high minimum flying speeds, and, as is the case at Edwards AFB, these are aircraft that are optimized for very high maximum speeds. Almost 19,000 feet of the runway at Groom Lake is paved for normal operations.
Lockheed's Skunk Works, now the Lockheed Advanced Development Company, is the most likely prime contractor for the Aurora aircraft. Throughout the 1980s, financial analysts concluded that Lockheed had been engaged in several large classified projects. However, they weren't able to identify enough of them to account for the company's income.
Technically, the Skunk Works has a unique record of managing large, high-risk programs under an incredible unparalleled secrecy. Even with high-risk projects the company has undertaken, Lockheed has a record of providing what it promises to deliver.
Hypersonic Speed

By 1945, only a small amount of jets had the capability of reaching speeds of 500mph. In 1960, aircraft that could exceed 1,500mph were going into squadron service. Aircraft capable of 2,000mph were under development and supposed to enter service by 1965. This was a four-fold increase in speed in two decades.

From this, the next logical step was to achieve hypersonic speed. The definition of hypersonic isn't as clearly defined as supersonic, but aerodynamicists consider that the hypersonic realm starts when the air in front of the vehicle's leading edges "stagnates": a band of air is trapped, unable to flow around the vehicle, and reaches extremely high pressures and temperatures. The edge of the hypersonic regime lies at a speed of roughly one mile per second - 3,600mph or Mach 5.4.

What is regarded by many as the most successful experimental aircraft program in USAF history, the X-15 rocketplane was created in response to a requirement issued by NASA (then NACA) for an air-launched manned research vehicle with a maximum speed of more than Mach 6 and a maximum altitude of more than fifty miles.

The X-15 program, which involved three test aircraft, went on to exceed all goals set and provided valuable data which has been used on many high speed/altitude aircraft of today, including NASA spacecraft, and most likely, the Aurora aircraft.

In the early 1960s, Lockheed and the USAF Flight Dynamics Laboratory began a hypersonic research program which would provide data on travel at hypersonic speed as well as more efficient shapes for hypersonic vehicles. From this program came the FDL-5 research vehicle, which beared an amazing resemblance to the North Sea Aurora sighting of Chris Gibson. Building on both the FDL-5 Project and Aurora, the aircraft which may have been seen over the North Sea could have been Northrop's A-17 stealth attack plane.

Possible forms of hypersonic propulsion that Aurora could be using include:
* Pulse Detonation Wave Engines
* Pulsejet Engines
* Advanced Ramjets

Hypersonic Requirements

There are three reasons why the North Sea sketch drawn by Chris Gibson is the most persuasive rendition of the Aurora vehicle. Firstly, the observer's qualifications, with which he couldn't identify the aircraft; which would have been instantaneous if the aircraft was known to the "white world". Second is the fact that the North Sea aircraft corresponds almost perfectly in shape and size to hypersonic aircraft studies carried out by McDonnell Douglas and the USAF during the 1970s and 1980s. The third factor is that the North Sea aircraft looks unlike anything else. No aircraft other than a high-supersonic vehicle, or a test aircraft for such a vehicle, has ever been built or studied with a similiar planform.

At hypersonic speeds, traditional aerodynamic design gives way to aero-thermodynamic design. In order for a hypersonic vehicle to remain structurally intact at such high speeds and stresses, the vehicle must produce minimum drag and be free of design features that give rise to concentrations of heat. The aircraft design must be able to spread the heat over the surface of the structure.

Thermal management is critical to high-speed aircraft, especially hypersonic vehicles. Skin friction releases heat energy into the aircraft and must be pumped out again if the vehicle is to have any endurance. The only way to do this is to heat the fuel before it enters the engine, and dump the heat through the exhaust. On a hypersonic vehicle, thermal management is very critical, the cooling capacity of the fuel must be used carefully and efficiently or else the range and endurance of the aircraft will be limited by heating rather than the actual fuel tank capacity.

So how will an aircraft reach such speeds? Conventional turbojet engines won't be able to handle the incoming airstreams at such speeds, they can barely handle transonic speeds. In the case of hypersonic propulsion, an aero-thermodynamic duct, or ramjet, is the only engine proven to work efficiently at such speeds. Even ramjets have drawbacks though, such as drag created in the process of slowing down and compressing a Mach 6 airstream.

To make a ramjet engine efficient is to spread the air over the entire length of the body. In a hypersonic ramjet aircraft, the entire underside of the forward body acts as a ramp that compresses the air, and the entire underside of the tail is an exhaust nozzle. So much air underneath the aircraft serves another purpose, it keeps the plane up.

The ramjets need a large inlet area to provide the high thrust needed for Mach 6 cruise. As a result, the engines occupy a large area beneath vehicle and the need to accomodate a large quantity of fuel means that an all-body shape is most feasible.

Structurally, the all-body shape is highly efficient. As well as being extremely aerodynamic, the average cross-sectional area being very large provides a great deal of space for load, equipment and fuel. This being inside a structure that is light and compact having a relatively small surface area to generate frictional drag.

The spyplane's airframe may incorporate stealth technology, but it doesn't really require it should its mission simply involve high altitude reconnaissance. Hypersonic aircraft are much harder to shoot down than a ballistic missile. Although a hypersonic plane isn't very maneuverable, its velocity is such that even a small turn puts it miles away from a SAM's projected interception point.

Choosing The Right Fuel

Choosing the right type of fuel is crucial to the success of Aurora. Because various sections of the craft will reach cruising-speed temperatures ranging from 1,000 degrees fahrenheit to more than 1,400 degrees fahrenheit, its fuel must both provide energy for the engines and act as a structural coolant extracting destructive heat from the plane's surface.

At hypersonic speeds, even exotic kerosene such as the special high-flashpoint JP-7 fuel used by the SR-71 Blackbird can't absorb enough heat. The plausible solution is cryogenic fuel.

The best possibilities are methane and hydrogen. Liquid hydrogen provides more than three times as much energy and absorbs six times more heat per pound than any other fuel. The downfall is its low density, which means larger fuel tanks, a larger airframe and more drag. While liquid hydrogen is the fuel of choice for spacelaunch vehicles that accelerate quickly out of the atmosphere, studies have shown that liquid methane is better for an aircraft cruising at Mach 5 to Mach 7. Methane is widely available, provides more energy than jet fuels, and can absorb five times as much heat as kerosene. Compared with liquid hydrogen, it is three times denser and easier to handle.

Aurora Specifications

Speed:
Speeds are reported to be in the range of Mach 5-8.

Length:
110 feet (33.5 meters)

Wingspan:
60 feet (18.2 meters)

Ceiling:
150,000 feet (28.4 miles)

Design:
The Aurora aircraft has an airframe like a flattened American football, about 110 ft long and 60 ft wide, smoothly contoured, and covered in ceramic tiles similar to those used on the Space Shuttle which seem to be coated with "a crystalline patina indicative of sustained exposure to high temperature. . . a burnt carbon odor exudes from the surface."

Engine:
Several have heard a distinctive low frequency rumble followed by a very loud roar, which could be the exotic engine used by a Mach 6 (4,400 miles per hour) aircraft. Experts say a methane-burning combined cycle ramjet engine (uniting rocket and ramjet designs) could have been developed to power Aurora. Observers in California have also reported seeing a large aircraft with a delta-wing shape and foreplanes. Some think this could be an airborne launch platform for satellite-delivery rockets or even the Aurora, before its more advanced engines were developed.

Power comes from conventional jet engines in the lower fuselage, fed by inlet ducts which open in the tiled surface. Once at supersonic speed, the engines are shut down, and Pulse Detonation Wave Engines take over, ejecting liquid methane or liquid hydrogen onto the fuselage, where the fuel mist is ignited, possibly by surface heating.

A vast amount of runours, conjecture, eye-witness sightings and other evidence point to an aircraft, funded as a Black Project, built by the Lockheed Skunk Works, operating out of the Groom Lake / Area 51 location. Always at night, never photographed, officially denied... This is the Aurora Project. No matter what speculation takes place, it seems the secrets that lie beyond the mountains of the Nevada desert will remain until the US military decides otherwise.

Power Plant:
At subsonic speeds power comes from conventional jet engines in the lower fuselage, fed by inlet ducts which open in the tiled surface. Once at supersonic speed, there are three possibilities for the propulsion that carries the plane up to its mach 5+ speed:


PWDE Pulse Detonation Wave Engines - Essentially, liquid methane or liquid hydrogen is ejected onto the fuselage, where the fuel mist is ignited, possibly by surface heating. The PDE Pulse Detonation Engine (PDE) operates by creating a liquid hydrogen detonation inside a specially designed chamber when the aircraft is traveling beyond the speed of sound. When traveling at such speeds, a thrust wall (the aircraft is traveling so fast that a molecules in the air are rapidly pushed aside near the nose of the aircraft which in essence becomes a wall)is created in the front of the aircraft. When the detonation takes place, the the aircraft's thrust wall is pushed forward. This all is repeated to propel the aircraft. From the ground, the jet stream looks like "rings on a rope". Another reader thinks this method is very suspicious. He goes on "a serious problem with the SR-71 and other high-speed aircraft is excessive skin heating. The last thing you want is to add combustion at or near the surface."
Ramjet - A reader points out that there is "a second possible power plant design, the Combined Cycle Ramjet Engine. Essentially, it is a rocket until it goes supersonic. At that point the rocket nozzles are withdrawn and the engines run as ramjets up to Mach 4-6. With a few minor modifications to the shape of the combustion housing, you could soup the power plant up to a scramjet, which could see speeds up to and beyond Mach 8. The fuel for this power plant could be liquid methane or methylcyclohexane, plus liquid oxygen as an oxidizer in the primary 'rocket' stage. Further data on this power plant is available through Popular Science Magazine, March 1993 issue. " However another reader feels that a ramjet is not a possible propulsion source because "the National Aerospace Plane (NASP) was cancelled in large part due to the inability to solve the materials problems with the proposed supersonic ramjets. I don't think there has been enough progress, even in the black world to solve these problems. Further, RAMJET doesn't leave doughnuts on a rope."
Regular Pulsejet - Pulsejets uses the forward speed of the engine and the inlet shape to compress the incoming air, then shutters at the inlet close while fuel is ignited in the combustion chamber and the pressure of the expanding gases force the jet forward. The shutters open and the process repeats itself at a high frequency. This results in the buzzing drone for which the pulsejet missile is named: the buzzbomb. A reader points out that "pulsejets can be cooled to solve the materials problems of supersonic ramjets. They could also generate doughnuts on a rope although this is speculation as I am unaware of any previous actual tests at high altitude."
Armament:
Although it has been rumored that the Aurora is equipped with the capability of carrying air-to-ground armaments, it is unlikely that the aircraft is designed for, or able to, support armaments. It is likely the plane is equipped for reconnaissance only.

There has been some debate about this though, as there was a Phoenix Air to Air missile that was designed to be carried in the F-12 (Basically a later interceptor version of the SR-71). This missile can only be carried by the F-12, the F-111 and the F-14 Tomcat. This missile might also be usable on the Aurora.

Mission:
Reconnaissance missions.

Contractor:
It is rumored that the Aurora was designed and built by Lockheed Aeronautical Systems Co., the same company who built the SR-71.

The SR-71 has served as one of the only aircraft capable of performing a mobile reconnaissance mission. Although satellites are useful in this role, the SR-71 had the advantage of going wherever and whenever an "eye-in-the-sky" is needed. In spite of this funding for the SR-71 program was canceled in 1989 and SR-71 flights ceased.

Given the importance of the role of the SR-71, and the fact that it is the only plane capable of performing that role, it has been suggested that government must have some secret aircraft that was capable of replacing the SR-71. According to Richard H. Graham, Col., USAF in his book SR-71 Revealed, "in 1990, Senator Byrd and other influential members of congress were told a successor to the SR-71 was being developed and that was why it was being retired. The "Aurora" could be this plane.

This argument is weakened by the fact that in 1995, congress approved $100 million to bring the SR-71's back into service. One argument is that the Aurora was abandoned, either due to expense or technical difficulties, and that the SR-71 had to be brought back to resume its mobile surveillance role.
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Old July 16th, 2005   #2
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Re: Aurora secret hypersonic aircraft (extension of X-15 project)

Collected here are some of the key dates in the Aurora's "history."

August 1989
A former Royal Observer Corps member working on a North Sea gas rig, 100 Km off the Norfolk coast spotted a matte-black aircraft refueling from a KC-135, accompanied by two F-111s. The aircraft was "a perfect triangle", slightly bigger than an F-111. The formation was heading towards the UK coast. (This may have either been a prototype of the canceled US Navy A-12 Avenger II, several of which are reported to have flown, or more likely the Northrop(?) TR-3A Black Manta Recce aircraft).

March 1990
Aviation Week and Space Technology first broke the news that Aurora was inadvertently released in the 1985 US budget, as an allocation of $455 Million for Black aircraft PRODUCTION in FY 1987. Note that this was for building aircraft, not R&D.

Observers in Nevada have seen and heard a distinctive aircraft flying over the Mojave desert at high altitude and speed, usually in the early morning. The contrail has been described as "doughnuts on a rope." Engine note at take-off "sounds like the sky ripping." Officials on the inside say "it's so black you won't hear anything about it for 10-15 years. "

October 1990
Aviation Week & Space Technology published reports of: "A high altitude aircraft that crosses the night sky at extremely high speed.... The vehicle typically is observed as a single, bright light -- sometimes pulsating -- flying at speeds far exceeding other aircraft in the area, and at altitudes estimated to be above 50,000 ft.... Normally, no engine noise or sonic boom is heard."

May 1991
"Aviation Week" claims that briefings have been given to selected members of Congress, and high-ranking Government officials suggest that some of these aircraft might be "the ultimate weapons featured in comic books- the ones so devastating that any potential adversary would never think of disturbing the peace for fear of the "Good Guys" retaliation. Aviation Week, stressing that it is only a "theoretical possibility", claims that one of the Aurora aircraft has an airframe like a flattened American football, about 110 ft long and 60 ft wide, smoothly contoured, and covered in ceramic tiles similar to those used on the Space Shuttle which seem to be coated with "a crystalline patina indicative of sustained exposure to high temperature. . . a burnt carbon odor exudes from the surface." Power comes from conventional jet engines in the lower fuselage, fed by inlet ducts which open in the tiled surface. Once at supersonic speed, the engines are shut down, and Pulse Detonation Wave Engines take over, ejecting liquid methane or liquid hydrogen onto the fuselage, where the fuel mist is ignited, possibly by surface heating. Speeds are reported to be in the region Mach 6-8. Beneath the fuselage are 121 tile-covered ports, housing nuclear or conventional munitions. These are ejected downwards at subsonic speed. The aircraft is reported to have a minimal RCS (Radar Cross Section), and a dedicated recce version is possibly already in service.

June 1991
A series of unusual sonic booms were detected in Southern California, beginning in mid to late 1991. On at least five occasions, these sonic booms were recorded by at least 25 of the 220 US Geological Survey sensors across Southern California used to pinpoint earthquake epicenters. The incidents were recorded in June, October, November, and late January 1991. Seismologists estimate that the aircraft were flying at speeds between Mach 3 and 4 and at altitudes of 8 to 10 kilometers. The aircraft's flight path was in a North North-East direction, consistent with flight paths to secret test ranges in Nevada. Seismologists say that the sonic booms were characteristic of a smaller vehicle than the 37 meter long shuttle orbiter. Furthermore, neither the shuttle nor NASA's single SR-71B were operating on the days the booms were registered. In the article "In Plane Sight?" which appeared in the Washington City Paper on the 3rd of July 1992 (pg. 12-13) one of the seismologists, Jim Mori, noted: "We can't tell anything about the vehicle. They seem stronger than other sonic booms that we record once in a while. They've all come on Thursday mornings about the same time, between 6 and 7 in the morning."

November 1991
Reports of "unusually loud, rumbling sonic booms" near Pensacola, Florida in November 1991 have been associated with the Aurora program.

Late 1991
An anonymous arms-control analyst says he examined a late-1991 Landsat image of Dreamland that shows three white triangles sitting by the main- runway. Each was about the size of a Boeing 747.

February 1992
At Beale Air Force Base, the California facility that was long home to the SR-71, on two consecutive nights in late February 1992, observers reported sighting a triangular aircraft displaying a distinctive diamond-shaped lighting pattern, comprised of a red light near the nose -- similar to the F-117 configuration -- two 'whitish' lights near what would be conventional wingtips and an amber light near the tail. While the wing lights are reportedly much brighter than normal navigation lamps, they do not illuminate the aircraft's platform. Observers claim the vehicle's wing lights are approximately twice as far apart as those on the F-117, and nose-to-tail light spacing is about 50 percent longer than that on the stealth fighter.

Early 1992
An aircraft fitting the description of the Aurora was seen being loaded into a C-5 at night at Lockheed's Skunk Works. The C-5 then departed for Boeing Field in Seattle. Speculation is that this aircraft is a hypersonic drone launched from the larger Aurora aircraft, like the SR-71/D-21A system. "... RAF radars have acquired the hypersonic target traveling at speeds ranging from about Mach 6 to Mach 3 over a NATO-RAF base at Machrihanish, Scotland, near the tip of the Kintyre peninsula, last November and again this past January." [Rogers, Jim, "RAF Radar Tracked 'Aurora' Over Scotland at Speeds From Mach 3 to Mach 6," Inside the Air Force, 24 April 1992, pages 1, 10-11.] In early 1992 a number of houses (+/- 25) in the Netherlands were damaged as a result of a sonic boom. The strange thing was that there were no aircraft in the region that could have caused the boom... A Dutch newspaper suggested it came from a top secret plane temporarely based in Scotland for testing.

Mid 1992
By mid-1992 noted aviation observer Bill Sweetman concluded that, "The frequency of the sonic booms indicates that whatever is making them is now an operational aircraft."

Summer 1992
An observer saw an Aurora type aircraft on finals to a secret Lockheed- operated RCS range in the Mojave desert one night in the summer of 1992. Because it was a moonlit night, he was able from a range of about one mile to discern a prominent raised-dorsal spine, two rectangular exhaust nozzles and a light-colored paint job with darker leading and trailing edges. Other observers who have claimed to have seen a similar aircraft flying near Edwards AFB say it "dwarfed" an F-16 chase plane, and reckoned it was about 200ft long.

October 1992
A night sighting was made near Beale AFB in California, ex-home of the 9th SRW flying the SR-71. The aircraft was seen in company with F-117s and a KC-135Q. (The KC-135Q was a dedicated version specifically for carrying the SR-71s special JP-7 fuel.) Because it was night, the exact shape of the "Aurora" aircraft could not be determined, but sported an unusual diamond shaped nav light pattern, which when compared to the formatting of F-117s suggest that it was about fifty percent longer with twice the wingspan. The engine note was described as being "like a very low rumble, like air being passed over a very large bottle."

Several reports have been received from the LA area of double sonic booms, minutes apart, which are characteristic of two aircraft flying slightly different tracks. The booms were recorded by the US Geological Survey's seismic monitors, and when compared with baseline data obtained from Space Shuttle re-entries and SR-71 operations suggest a speed in excess of Mach 3. A senior USAF officer hinted that Beale AFB would be assigned a new mission within two years. It is thought that "Auroras" have visited the base, probably as transients, in recent months. Local residents report hearing a series of "booms like artillery firing" emanating from within the base perimeter. Propulsion experts confirm that these booms are consistent with light-off testing of Pulse Detonation Wave Engines.

In Amarillo, Texas, Steven Douglas photographed the "doughnuts on a rope" contrail pattern of Aurora passing overhead. Shortly after, he picked-up digitally encrypted speech on a narrow-band frequency used by the USAF for special missions, and as a Comsat downlink. He also intercepted Air/Air R/T between a USAF AWACS and two unknown aircraft using the call signs "Darkstar Mike" and "Darkstar November."

A month later, radio enthusiasts in California monitoring Edwards AFB Radar, c/s "Joshua Control", heard early morning R/T between Joshua and a high flying aircraft using the callsign "Gaspipe." Joshua controllers were vectoring Gaspipe into Edwards AFB, using terminology usually used during Space Shuttle recoveries. "You're at 67000 ft, 81 miles out." was heard, followed by "Seventy miles out now, 36000 ft, above glideslope. " Now, at the time, NASA was operating both the SR-71 and the U2-R from Edwards, but it has been confirmed that neither of these types were operating at the time Gaspipe was heard.

Financial analysts Kemper Securities have examined Lockheed Advanced Development Company's declared revenues from Black programs: Returns for 1987 were $65 Million. Returns for 1993 were $475 Million. The only declared Lockheed Black Projects are U2-R and F117A upgrade programs, and nothing new has been announced between 1987 and 1993. It was also discovered that the TOTAL US budget allocation for Project Aurora for 1987 was no less than $2. 27 Billion. According to Kemper, this would indicate a first flight of around 1989. The spread of US Government payments to Lockheed indicate that the aircraft is probably about one-fifth of the way through it's development program, or has been "extensively prototyped." Around $4. 5 Billion has already been spent.

February 1993
The USAF has applied to buy over 4000 acres of land overlooking Area 51. Local residents have reported hearing Pulse Detonation Wave Engines being tested inside the perimeter. These tests have also been reported from Edwards AFB. One local pilot who lives near Edwards said that the engines could be heard 25 miles away when being ground tested.

March 1994
Further evidence of Aurora comes with details of a new hangar which has been built, several stories high, with a large gantry crane inside. Apparently this is used to mate the hypersonic drones to the Aurora mothership. Huge cryogenic storage tanks containing liquid methane or liquid hydrogen have been built. These are the two fuels that Pulse Detonation Wave Engines would use.

April 1995
Freedom Ridge Shut down. A hill overlooking Area 51 is shut down by the government.

January 1995
A sighting by two British Airways pilots and other witnesses at Manchester Airport on January 6 1995 has been attributed to the Aurora aircraft.

July 1996
Report of a sonic boom over Orange County, CA coming on 20 July 1996. It is reported that the "quake" occurred around 3pm PST, fitting the "skyquake" pattern of previous reports. November 1996 Aviation Week magazine is reporting that SR-71 operations have resumed. The first flight was a week ago today. The fiscal 1997 budget provides $30 mil for operations, which will result in about 250 flight hours. Three crews are assigned to operations, not known how many aircraft are available.

December 1996
In the Dec 2 issue of Aviation Week a small column about a "screaming roaring take off" sound heard Nov. 25th in Palmdale around 6am that morning. Article quote an old aviation hand who lives there as it being unlike anything he'd ever heard.

Unknown Dates
The crew of a London-bound United 747 on climb out from LAX filed an Airmiss after an "unidentified supersonic aircraft" passed within 500- 1000ft vertically of them near George AFB in California. The crew described it as "a lifting-body, like the forward fuselage of an SR-71 but without wings." Further sightings have been made in the US: Observers in California have reported seeing an aircraft with a similar platform to the XB-70 Valkyrie, with a clipped delta wing with winglets, narrow blended fuselage with a clear canopy, sharp nose and possibly a retractable canard.

For further information on X-15 plane i have given some details.

X - 15
Hypersonic Research at the Edge of Space


This joint program by NASA, the Air Force, the Navy, and North American operated the most remarkable of all the rocket research aircraft. Composed of an internal structure of titanium and a skin surface of a chrome-nickel alloy known as Inconel X, the X-15 had its first, unpowered glide flight on June 8, 1959, while the first powered flight took place on September 17, 1959. Because of the large fuel consumption of its rocket engine, the X-15 was air launched from a B-52 aircraft at about 45,000 ft and speeds upward of 500 mph. The airplane first set speed records in the Mach 4-6 range with Mach 4.43 on March 7, 1961; Mach 5.27 on June 23, 1961; Mach 6.04 on November 9, 1961; and Mach 6.7 on October 3, 1967. It also set an altitude record of 354,200 feet (67 miles) on August 22, 1963, and provided an enormous wealth of data on hypersonic air flow, aerodynamic heating, control and stability at hypersonic speeds, reaction controls for flight above the atmosphere, piloting techniques for reentry, human factors, and flight instrumentation. The highly successful program contributed to the development of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo piloted spaceflight programs as well as the Space Shuttle program. The program's final flight was performed on October 24, 1968.

I dont know whether this has been discussed before but i hope that it was not discussed before or if it was discussed i am starting it again how much we can discuss on the present aircrafts we must also discuss that which is unrevealed and who's specifications are not known to people this which i have searched can become reality after a few years if you read above the F-117 was also reamined hidden for a long period of time i request MOD and ADMINISTRATOR that please let me discuss this with the members.
From kashifshahzad member DT

(The text didnt fitted in one post so i have to post in two)
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