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The Pentagon's Secret Hyper'soln,ic Spypla1ne

Bi II Swee~mCln

Our policy is ,cJea~aU Air Force business win 'be ooruiucwd with honesty and integrity;·

~ Air Foroe.Respons@ 1tQ Aurora AI]@gaJrtions, ~ Dl;!~mbe;r 1992

Ourseareh disclosed no records or knowledge of;. aF-ll7 Night Hawk.

L~ttu[' Fro~ tho OUiiro mUw S(l~t~ry QPth,Q Air 1~'@1"C(1! 00 Mr .. It W.. Koch, August 198'1'


In mL;!!I);lOtw ef'Bron Rek. 1945-19-:9:3

.1 ~,f,Iail mlJch An',f, QU~ llldlt }'ll!l. tlrouglJJ".

Stevie Sm:iU'I

l"irst pllhl1shed in 1'993 by Mo1iorbo()k~ Internatinnnl Publishers & Wholesalees, PO BU:K 2, 72'9 Prosped Avml.llIl1, Osceola, \,,1 M020USA

e BiU Sweetman" 1995

All rights reserved, With the exceptim. of qJ\lloti11g brief l}tl!5Sngos I'm' the purposes of review no pa it ·(If this pubhcn tion may be reprudueed wHlloul, prior wl'itte!~ permiseicn frurn the Publisher

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LU~i'ni',}' 0.1' CIJII],gl''eS!'l Cnlnlo<gi!~~.i[l· Pub]ir.ation Data

Sw(!(!trrw,n, Bill,

Aurora : the PentLlgon'o<; secrst hypersonic sfJyp~arle J Bill Sweetlnan, W, em, - (MI)t.{,!'l:HJ!llt~

International miHech series) Ineludee lfldox,

ISBN 0·879.18.-7&0-7

L AlIl"(lnL (R(~C(lllnai8imncc airel'aft) 1. Title, It Series,

UG1242,RAS94 199,~

358,4'583----dc2Q 93-14::329

D." Uloe friJ'lit CQvP-r: A pt1intinf,l' (,I'/Vtn'{lm by Kerry Leslie.

On the ba.ckcQI.'e'r: Ajoinj; prl)jec of .Lockhc(ld and Lhe liISAiO' .FI]gh t; Dynamics Lalmratory from Lhe 1960:;\, thi", hy];eraonl(; .r~ea:rfJb aircr,(Ifi; hears an uneanny resemb~£lnce W the .ail'CI"!Ift; ~n C)Vill' tho N01·til Sea in 1989. USAF piu, DmAAl S'degan. A (,.'ll.tfiWIlI,y of the ,Afj,lrm'n by Mil;,(l B,j:!dl'g~l~c.

Introductio'I'l' Would Your 'Government Lie to You? 4

Chapter 1 Blac;kest of the [Black 11

Chapter.2 Flying Toward Space 31

ChaptfN" 3 The Hype,rs,onic Revolution 64

Chapter 4 The Price of D'enia~ 87

Po-stscrJp,t Cover' Maintained, Secret:s Kept 9'5

Index 96


Would Your 'Governlrnent IL,ie to You?

"Is tIl.ere any-thill1g else to whilch. you would wish to dlrawmy attention :?~!

i~TQ the curious inciden't; of the dog in t.he night-time.'~ "The dog did not11ing in the nigh.t-time."

j~TIliat was the curious fnciden t, t!

On 'Marth 6, ] n90. Ol'1lJ or the United States Air Perce's (USAF} sleek, matte-black Lockheed. SR-71 .Blac.llt:bi rd £pyplll~l·(l)s! serial n um bet' 64· J 7972 r shattered! the official air speed record from Los Angeles to 'Washingten's Dulles airport, There, a brief snow-dusted c.e;'emony markerl the end Dr the ,IS,It, 71'[; op(lI'at]oml.~ career, as the reeord-b reaking aircraft was handed avel' to U1(~ NklU(ln<11 Ai" and Spn~c IVhl~~.:rl.lm,

OfficiVlUy, the 8.R-11 was being reU!'tid ttl :::;[l\lf'_! [,he $2,00 ... :'1;300 million n YG'IT thut iit eest W uperatcthe fleet, Some reporters were told that the rSR- 71 had beet! declll.t'ed ~'~(]undtmt because spy s:)tel]il;es had improved so mudl that the ahx.:raf't was no longel' needed,

But there was somethi . ng badly wrong with the picture: not, on~y wus the llir F011Ce, from chief ef staff Gen. Lawrence We.lch on down" decllning ~)P !)f~SiJ.l on to ~"!~ll (] i ~~!jm~"i\\t Ml~,m~ or{_)],1i.~ manncd-alrcraft mission, but it also Wiiil.S dh:n;:oul'aging cm'lgl.·~sSi.On."l~ attempts to reViVE! it. Ni:WE}r i.nii;$ hi~t(J~'Y had 'the Ail' F'oreo~ownecl and operat-

cd by tho pi~ot cOInnlunity-wulkud a way from a manned mission, however mundane, without a tight.

Themonoy wus also un ~SSlH.)~ij;3{)O million is a lot to most of us, but it is chk:k.enfeeCl to the Pentagon. SpeciH.cally, it is well under 7 percent or what the Pentag'ol'!l spends each year on reCO~)m~DSf,lHnCe s~~tQnit~lii, If UHE SR-71s served no other purpose than that of an eUH;!1'gen(':ybn.d(:up., in case of an tmh,lcky f:itring uf sate Ili to and 1 auneber failures, they would be cheap insuranne.

The mi.l1~in~pie,,·e in this puzzle, and a number of others, is 8! spyplaue emJled Aurol·n. The Qutside wol'ld uses that mnn{~ because a eensor's slip let it appem.' be[ow the SH.71 and the U·:2 in the 1985 Pentagon hudget request, atlathed ~J[) a. budget Hne thatcal) ed fhr prod Ut:U on Fi.:mdt:l 'i n 19~7 ,,~'\l'cn H· t.h~l~ was the project's real name=which is not nel~t.:.aln-]lwas almost {,{'lI'hlhl~y t:;htLn~cd (J,lUw bQ]nj'.f cnmpromlscd i n such. a manner.

'l'hfl pl.i.<I.n(l~~ !"t.!al narue htl~ hoon k<.~vt ~(1~rct~ and so .~~ the factthat it exists. The project is. what is technical-

ly known as an unacknowledged Spectal .Access· Program (SAP). Mor'~ often . .s:u(~h vfojed:s arc called r'black prot'l·al,[)~ ... "

"",-'he P~nh.go]] '8 "black wo·dd/' w]thin which such programs are tun"

Would ¥o-ur Govenmumt Lift to' You?

dueted, is not a separate, secret milito.!",Y forM. It i.s mom like a loose underground network, distributed throughout the services and other Pentagon agencies .. Its ~.i:ze can he gangBd from th.e Pentagon's unclaesi-

in Mar'(::A nr9(), the the: US Ail' Force fbr" NU;it"l1r.i Uti] SR-7.l, atfflgrJ.fity (lfl,rmlioning a high'priority mauned-aircrait 11~i.'1;itDn m~~l l~~ I~~'l!~~. Mgit!!1lt-/7yil1,g q:ir· crap in fewo, of !XIidlit~8. 'Two yearr:: later.

th« ehl'e:{ o:f the USAF's 8pr~rf!. CQmmm.tdchatg.~d wHit l,(MWr:hl;llg an(lQl}j~I'aW~g thos« mnj'i.I"me:a th« t h~fi ~'r)mm(!,n4 1{!a,'I, ~n Irm(),. i11¢~pC1N~ (!t perfonninl! its mis·1>·ion .. L[.'!~khe·IHI


DtlrinM the ~I~t 15 }'eru's DOhe SR, .. iTs ca· ree 1', ·1 h.~",>~' C1A· i!n~m~'t! VH:ldu;u,id A· iz« ti>'tre 'Wi ~rGk,wwlcdged to exist u nd r,Q(:!l'~ PI'{)ttfl)ll!~l by an twti [;If:! disinf'of' 1n(lt.lVIl progmm. Thi8 did nut fwl tlw Bu"

fie(] budgetdocuments, which ~nthldc COlTcut total and summary figures hut whkh ecncealrnrlivid uilil p:,!'Og'rarn.8 l}y mentioning them. onIy by codename or by ' UHHI1 ~cn~r:i(! meaningless titles.

In the Pentagon's budget request. fhr n~<!a~ Y{lU r1993, 1J1() black budf.:-ct~expenditun!:s masked in this way-a.mounted to a staggering $16 billion I:r:rf research, dflVIi1]opmen1;~ rmd pruduetion of secret programs" That

oiets, Ib'ho kmm;r;tbord th» p'.I:(jgfwn In HMO (cummYii'lB if! MiG tmr"~(L!IGhf(!!, Ro~u;;:l!.w BdyafwlJ, in ,ct 19:91 iJ.r)oil) and (iA~'~!'!Jned a~t! MiG·2.5 }ih\:ha! to inlm'"'P.Hpt thH A· 12. Lmikheed

constitutes 17 percent of the Pentagon'aentire budget lor R&D and production, {md exeoeds !,hos~ biJdj.,"(lb; of mostWesternna tions,

'1'0 see the black. world .! n action" you. can trek through i,hr~ N(~V~~(h"l desert to a mountainside overlcoking the dl'Y Groo,mL~k~. li','orn S~,'($~',,:d miles away-as close as yOn can get wi nwut entering restrieted governmont Inndr:l="yon can !Oe--e through the persistent haze aIarge flight-teet een·

ter . It resembles Edwards Air F'(lrce Base, Ca1ir(}rnja~ with a sprawllng eelIection of hangars of Ili{HIY different sizes and atyl.€:fl, scattered by the edge (lin six-mile runway,

OfficiaHy, the Groom Lake comple!i!:-t'~~.o kf!'QWll ns Arcu 51-clo~!l; not exist, Even ill Lock heed paper pu h· lished last year on the early d3!,Ys of the iHil.~ which refers Ion test s at Gr{IOUl that were eompleted thirty-live yearlil ago" can d~~!"ib~ it onlyas "a rsmute location,"

CompaI'ing todny's GrOOn'1 Luke with ground-level photostaken in the late 1970s, it is apparent that many of the larg~sL huildings ' ... rere added in the foUowJ.tilg decade, The 5J te ]$. very active: always visible :in recent photos arsa notilhli of BosilllJ 787s !,hat bl.'il'l,g' people to Groom fr,om the nlaees whore they l ive, arid where tIl(dr friends and farml ies think bh ey wOl:k-such as Palmdale,,. or Edwal'ds il1 CaJifol'ni ,or Ncm~ Ail' Force Bass in N evada,

Th·e oost and Ineon ven ie!1cl) of such an operation is immense, and there is only one possible reason For it: 1;0 pro'\'id~ a !lioor'Ct 'oostingpltl!()a tIn' [I'in::m:l't that are obviously different from those the publie is awa.te of.

Groom Lakehas another unusual feature: .1 Jake-bed runway that is six mlhIH5 long, Of twioC~ il.~ alii 'the longest normal runways in th.e United States. Going back to the basies, the l(;:lngt-h of a runway 'is determined (l~ther by the distance an an-eraft requlms taaccelerats t.o flying speed, 01:' '~hc distance that the uin,~raft needs to decelerate :' landing, That dishmcc is proporti,o:n~l to th!ll spCf!ed nt which Uftofr"takcs place; usually, ultra-long runways meanaireraft with very hig'h minimum' speeds, and as is Jibe case ail: Edw,.~rds~these are usually

Would YoW" Govemmenl Lie to Yem?

aircraft that are for very high l:nuil~um speeds, Almost 19,000 feet of the run way is paved formuti lie operations.

But the Air Force denies that Au.~ rora, or any high-speed! project, is among U:u:,:' seeress tllO! tit hides 'i n the Nevada desert, Questiorn'tld about Aurora in the fall of 199'2, former U8 Ai r Feree Seer(l~t\ ry Donald! B. R'~oe en st doubt on "the kind .0:" descriptions. laid ont in some of those nrti eles lwhic.h II would take an aircraft of such proportions and. capahifitaes that there woukh,'t be a ,SfiJ.o'i.!,'baU's ehanee in you know whereof hiding it."

Maybe, but the Air Foree has done It before.

Air Foree seeuri tv cut its teeth on the Lockheed U·2 spypl~nii!, the l1!'ost US alrcraft to be kept secret at the 'lime it, entered service. Thal'C were, however, some problems, The U-2 used dayliglu cameras and therefore operated in the day!:.ime. In h~ form! it could not be retueled in flight, f:I.!id 'had to be based :1:1'1 allied nations on the periphery of the Soviet Union in. order 1.0 reach ]ts tm-gets.

'Tho 1U-2 attract-fld ~atL<]I1Hon from the moment it flrr·jved at Royal Air Foree (MF) Lakenheath in England, In an uncanny fO'l,'eshadowing of 'the Aurora story, a sketch of '(the mysterious stranger" made by <JIBritish. spot. ter appeared in the London-based magazine FUght,.

The USAF f'inih] ly ae lit n owledged th~t the aircraft was 3J Lockheed U-2, and released pictures of oneof the models l n fake National !'lory Commjttee for Aeronautics (NACA) frHu·kings to bQ]5h~:r the story that it was engaged in high-altitude atmospherie research. But it dii(l not take much iut!a'Ilig·ence to wonder' why such an aircraft should be kept sseret.or


why it should have a designation in the Utilit.v cUegory-previously used ('oOr (hechu.nky ,200 mile per hour (mph) de Havilland Canada OUer transnert,

S{~cm~ity di d a bt;:1.ter job nt~xt time, The U·2'1> hlJblfldli,l(] 1:'cpl~~curn(rnt was Lockheed's giant C.L-400, eodsnamed Suntan" The Mach .2_5 ah'c!'afl was pnwered by totaUyne\N';lrbo·i",am. jet (A 'Tn.} mlgim~~ burning liq uid hydl'()gen.,IJl'~r~t & Wh]tnc'y c~l~'li'¢d· ;il complerely new fadlity out of the Florida EI"el'glaiJe:s to build and. test th~ cl1g' ;;wd Lockheed virtuaUy completed the first four aircraftbelbre Sunt,"!n wJls Q~uH~glud due to tcelmieal .'wH)gf3iT) H}58,

Not one word. Ieakedout about Suntan until lw~nty yt!!1t'S later, when Lockheed SW[l"fr.(~d talking about liquid hydrogen :[15 a future aircraft fuel,

Sunt~n, which had he en sponsored by th{~ USAF, W~iS !·1~[I)]<i(,..'t~d by H. 0011- tnt] Tnhl]Uiguncu Agut'i<;:'! (CIA) pl'oj~ct for a kerosene-fueled Mach 3: aircraft, eatls d Gusto. Anel: Lockheed was soh:~(;ted t.n blJ~M ~;~G 'Jin;;rnft~~Il September 1959, Gusto was renamed Oxcart.

L()~kh·~~dj$i ln~~~1'!! (]~~~g~1 wus CIl ]lt~d t.he A· 1 ] j and featured a pencilsl]IT1 forward fuselage .. AE design work prog:r!E!>sed, the drawings were modi['[e.:'f to reduce I".)d.~r reHectivjty: in partieuler, broad ehines were added to the fuselage .. W]th these changes, th{~ aircraft that new ill. Apd! 1962 was called Ull\l A~ U 2.

Secrecy was paramount, and Groom Lake-c-whieh harlbeen remporarlly .'l.hatHlnned a fb:w thu 1J-·2; W8I.f$ ucdtl)::;;ifi~d=was rebuilt into a fll.~~y ~q'ui·lrp~d h~!\@ th@,t WQuld F;U]W(j!"~ not. ()n~y the A-12- flight-tests but ~)]~O the (;INto two lve cporu ti.onal aircraft, The A"i2 was designed to bainhereutly more secure than I.hel]·2 heeause ,t

coul.d!. reEue.~. in. flight and 'was thet'efcm.'l muehless T'e~.ti·k:!,(!(i in ·i l~'" US(l of buses,

There wer!1"3 some dose calls. On an early test flight, an A~12, was .. refueling frDm a tanker when a r:.{)mnl!~n:iulic:t eruised by, only a few thousanclt-eet aWay, GQV@tmi~e:rH {)[licial~ mH u~(\! ~Hght when it Landed, htieny detained ~ll(!- p~,fi,sengfJn;, and warned them to say nothing abou t Olnyth~l1g til ey might have seen. On another occasion, !!!, cOIlJ!.pl{l in n Hgh~l:._inlr.l~rt gnL.~{)~L and 13nd.ed O'lt fhe fil'st ~mit.Q:hlc fiddwhhih happened to be Groom Lake" "We scared the hall Qui, of th(,!ll1:lmJ se,nt them on theirway," l,(~Ga]l"_ a former Lockheed ongn.l1()er,

En May 1.963, one of the A-] 25 crashed. neal' WOtu]OV{W, Utah. The wl'{,':<;lt~tgG W!J~ d(!·~H1c·'11i.]p~ wlmcsse~· were asked to sign security agreements, and ~he i'n'eSiil was told that an F· H)Ei h ad crushed.

Nevertheless, the plane's existence Wa~ ~f)' ;!i,l!¥lO!i.~O(,)fl'ipl~oo ~I,;!l'p!'i$i<l'l whm~ Presjdent l.vndJon .,]ohnson ~~r'InOlJnced its exist(mc(~ in February ..I.H64. 'The news spar k:ed off a llurry of s peclIl] a" tuna; but many passed be fore , t wrlfOn:ml:i."ed dLmt ,Johnson's statmmmt was=ro use the elegant expression O.Hc:e, used in CCIlH'!. by [I BdOf;.h civil H.crv:;tnt-HOC0l1um]c,11 ,,,,Hh tho truth,"

Johns,on caned the plane the A-ll, although the A·] 1 h,,~.d. nf!vm' 1')0(\1'1 huilt, and fHlid that "the A·"] I aircraft now at Edwards Al'"B are undergoing t.1xtc:n~iv~ tests to cl~t~!'m~n~ Ul.eir cn· pabili ties as long-ra nge i nterceptors. ~

Tn fucL, the USAl" had ord.(ll'<ld a development of the A~12, called the YF-Jl2; as an interceptor, and two or Lhcrn wur~Llnilm'b'"{)in.g' te~l:.!l at On.'Hitn. But there were no A- .1.18, or A-12s, or YF,12s at Edwards and never had hr::e n, I no rdcr b)h:(lpl;h 11 veld fi ~lbl e fads consistent with the president's

Wldlri. A.mu1ccms HJ~re t4(JII ~f;)ld gb'f}~a trw A.-.r 2', a~p..:r We;\!;! toM (!:b~)u~ r.lris nin:raf~, originnll,y amt inmn'Hnt(1,1 Ma(~t1. an «:A·]'," .4ctually, it is a Yft'-12A .• wUh rwUunul

statement, the Ylo'-12s, were rushed to Edwards and-s-siuca the plan view fif the aircraft wag still secret-e-immcdintuly placed into hangars, 'l'hey were still sO' hot from their supersonic dash that they tl."iggei.'edi the -sprinklers [n the hangar', drsnchi n~ U'e reception committee.

The Air Force had also o!'(IrH'od thirtyexamples of the HS-'ll t U nJ{;OUnalssanec-strike airplane, developed fi.'om the Y11'-12. desigl~ed to fu:;';~ damage ai1er a nuclear :)t:tad, and to destroy with nuclear weapons any targCJts that had escaped t.he first {JJ.ttack. In December 1964, Johnson revealed ~h~l ~~",pf;,hm{:c o~· Ull11 !t'ircl':dt, b~1l, called i~. UHJ SR·7] Blackbird, Allegedly, it was it misrearfing, but the official diesignation ofthe aircraft WIUi ehanged to SR (strategic reeoenaissance) .nllcl the fact t.hat the aircraft could have been developed easi ly to carry wea pons W;;I$ not alluded 1.0 1,11'11,,11 tht~ cady 198005.

But t,hi,i CIA'~ (\·12s remained sseret, despite the fact that-by 1965 there were 1,RClO peoph~ worki rig at Groom T ,aln;. By the end of that year

m(iwkilj~.'i, lm .. <lz· fHw:dmrs and (1 fai;;.({ ll()!';" hole (io persuade ww .. (v.sts Oud it r,t'(l$ ea IhN!C'·~NCltt.!r) lWl;ltU,'t' add~d for itl'! linli~ pub. licr.t;y ~kfAs. Lockheed

the alrcraft WfIlS· declared ready for QPeration. T T1 MtLy1967. £\·.l.28W t'e de· ploysd to Kad'ena Ai.1" Base, in Ok.inewa, lin nrmrluej, n .. ~gu]H.r Iligh~so'\o'ci' No d.h Vi t;tn.ul1 an d some over North Korea, '["hew contmued to do so until 1'ltid·,]968, wh~n the eM A-l2: unit was deactivated, I;hc aircraft were placed in secure storage at Palmdale, and the missian was assumeC]-for reasons of ecanomy-e-by tht~ USAF's SR·71!'>.

Although the A-12s had been flying regularly nut nl"K{1(lena, their modstenca wont unnoticed, So did that of a companion prog-ram to the A-12.

This WInS U~e .0·21 ra ~t]J f! L-'p~ ~wul\(ld reconnaissance drone, de~~~ g-noQl;l tll be 1.;;lUncht~d at Mach B from the back of <11"1 /\.1'2, and 'with th!E almost unbelisvable range of more than 10.,000 miles at Mach ;).8. The D-21 becarncopcratillnn1 in 1970, but was retiredin 1972 for poli tical and technical reasons after $2 bilHon hl ,d been spent.

A few years later, some of the ])- 21s were photographed in open storflge atDavis-Manthan AFB, Arixanu,


but the Air Force released scant details of thtH'fn and implied that they wel'f~ developed us test vehicles or target. drones. 'rile D-215 \!,!E;H'e later placed in a ",~(!ut'c aren, and thc'h' 'uxis,termee we rrt unreported outslde the trade preas.

The A·12s were kept ilfld(lol'~ ut Palmdale, CaHf{lrni~l, for ten years. The USAfi' had lost several SR~ 7 bin the early years of the Ptogr'~:I"I'Ii"lnd it was felt that tilt': A.12~might btl needed as spares, In Apl'ilW82, tw nty years after the first flight, the existCl1C~1 of '~hEi A·12 WfLfl dt!duf>t>Jnml. The B-21 W3J~"i re\'t~fi10d ~It the same t-ime" but. nothing was said about itscapahilities, and its development hi'~.m·y is still offici ally cl assjif ed,

Before April 1982, the existence of the A-l2 had bean intentionally COl1- {:{~;;Ilcd for twenty-three years, despite flying operational in~t'i$.i(l[l$ out of non~'~cur~ bll~!]I:;,Lhrlmg:·h ~1 combntaeion of security, cover stories, and misle:'1.ciiTlg mformntion. The ultimate i!'uny is that the security measures had little effect on their intended target. The Soviet Unton.'s intelligence s6i:vh:.':lL'!~ W~11'U well aware that the A-12 H;Io;]$b.Hj'IS [j,<lrly as 1960, MiG chle] designer Belyall~ov revealodm 11199I book; the MiG-,2fl Mach. a, fighter W3J.Ei designed to ceun ter th e- A -12, ~'W1F-uo eIA .~ eaks ''iuggesl,~'}d jn tho late 1970s-the already moribund XE-70,

An d now, i l i 5 A uroru Lh.!i.t dQCS no1.exi<;,t

MQre than a. (l02IN!. A.-.12s---as big a.s~ a 8·58 bomber Uil~l'el;(jmp{r.t'rld in ~nfal ~4\'C;n!H;Y


- ...... ~ .... ' 'iiI~lI!- .'="_.

hero"'!? the progrcun"~ existence was acItl'wwil rlg~'rl. vin ,Jim Gu(ddl

Chapter 1

Blackest of the

Surely you have heardof j,t? , •

It been. the mostjeaiQus.ty ,guarde,d of ,all gm;·ermnent secrets.

-Conan Doyle, The. Bruce-Pnrtingten. Plans

About a ye:fli!"' and a half after the SR- 7l.wu:..; l'()Ured, around "am on 11 Thulf~day morning in .hmc 1991, a sonic boom. to,lJ.ed across the !lOU thern Cal ~rot'nja busin, It wasenough of a shuck to make people call their local rudio stu t.ii 01.'1 S; ask! ng j I' the noise had been caased by an earthquake; but it had not,

The bocm was rU1 unusual occurrence bscause military pilots know that fHHlITling urban areas .is 'bad co-r :ill,lblic relations, It was a150 unusual in that it could be tracked. and measured in Iii, way nm~ would he imposeible UDY· where else in the worldt Locking for signs of the Big One-the next massiva release or Ijhc tension locked in the San Andreas not on 1.y a C!~Wlll"nDu ohsessinn, hut, tt fnll·ti:me job for US Geologieel Service fIJSGiS) selsmologists based at the California Instl ~u f;cr,i f Tochnology ~ n Pasa dona,

The Cal'I'ech seismologists mom'tor and ma p every quiver 11'1 tho(! ground w'iii,h an. array of 220 ph.18 remete seismographs scattered across UH.~ South Inn d, ri'om tho southe rn coasts to the eastern Mqjave Desert.

During the 19t10s, they had fmmd that their instruments would n"lspund when theapace shuttle ot'hiIJet~ passed overhead at supersunle speed, on their gHding nppnu.lch to l:]d\~'ard~ AFB, They aho realized that tll,e),' could rcconstruct the shuttle's traek and speed by comparing the time at which the boom, sweeping along like a vast 'cone trailed by ths sl,')filc'l.'1,crMt., arrived fit different points.

It seemed to the USGS selsmologial.s~I1'lt the June 19rn honm, und other booms that were tracked betw~en October 1991 and J une HHJ2, were produced by something moving between Mach 3 (2,000"'1'11)11) and Mach <1 (2,650m ph), The i'ioh u.W c flies In ueh faster than this during re-entry, but nn shutslos were landing on UIOS() dates, The world's air .r;pcud record 15 2,193mph, (no; Mach 3,3-set in .1 uly Hn6 by the t:ltlw·l'ctir~cl SR·71,

Th-e track that the sd!5mo]o,~i.st5 plotted on the !ll;,~p ran roughly northeast. over l.;{):)l Angeles and across UW.l Mojave Desert, headed somewhere bet"\lI;'!~n Death V@llu), and Las Vegas .. It pointed toward the sprav ..... ling Nellis


range, the largest expanse ofmilitary to,sting and pructlce range in the Western world,

The unid entified vehicles U1R t boomed Los Angeles. in 1991 and 1992

were not heard. from again heynnd Nevada. In all probabilfty, they were headed for Groom Lake, But. if they .were headed fOT Groom, some ~iOO milf;lij from Los A!lgel·~!j, they ",'ere ~l .. t

Formation $e~ti from Galveston Key By -GiLlis Gibson aM Graeme Winton in August 1~9

IDIIREOTION Of. r:l.i~HT \"'AS (POSSIIBL Y) twl'llli

WEJ\TH,,;R-.BRIGHT, WITH A .~f!,ZY eILaU!D I.AYI:I'I i\ T HG.iH tsva.


STA 1'100 ON if IE POIU S!bI~

OF HiE j<\C i 35.




'T'Jw original sketch b;..'· Chri,$ Gibson althe (~i"cn~f~ w!r.i,ch lie sau: GrJ.P..!" the Nori:h th~ 1;1.1 Altfjl,Lst l!~89, Chris Gibson

IlHJR1, n ftl.'en minutes from ar rival. Even at their reeord-breaklng l)pcl~d, they were already diece]ertl,tilrlg,

The Los Angelos booms were more than nn Isclatedineident. They were the first corroborated, non-hearsay ev.ldencl't ell support rumors, slghtlngs, and hearings that. had been aeeumubting since the mid-19S0R_

The first r~pcHtH were ho~u'd in 1986, not long' after the federal government sealed off another large Ll";;wl, of open land near Groom Lake: The cffeet was; to make Groom less visible to observers Of) public Iand; ,d.fl'f.!,!'iy, Ibr some reason" the Pentagon f[:11t that the base's secuI'ilywul'> inadequate, or was ahout to become 50.

In Februarv 19S~, the New Yort:

Time» 1;'L\!pc}rh)~l thut~heUSAF was working ,on <'I :j.l;~<.I.lthy reconnaissance aircraft capableof Mach 6 (about 4;OOOmph). The stm'~' 'wa~a~tl'U:Hitcd to "Pentagon sources": other papers that bl'ied to fuljow it foundclesed dUQYf5 and a cold trail,

Early in 1990, ,'l.f'()ll)nd the time the SR- 71 W~I.~ retired, A.uir,HionW(wk made another reference to sueh 3" aE"!"craft, l'epol.'t.j Ilg Lh ilL wi tnesses had heard ani ncred i b 1y loud ai rcra ft departing from Edwards at night, One of them Hk{lIH)d~}w nulse to "the sky being I'i.prl(:"ld open;" Others referred to a "pulsing" sound that rose and IfLll in volume lilt about one cycle 11m' seeon d, One of the rn;ag'Jzinc'~ rcadersvreti!Klud i. t1t{ l.-o ~h(~ story, reported ;SM~ ng 'Jif~ ai'n;;n~ft traverse an estimated 400 mile distance in six minutes over the p<lCmC,

In November 1.991, a. Royal Air .FmlC.€: air trafflc l~mll.rollt~l· '""Will' oil radar 'hHp emerge ['("mIn the base at Machribanish, Scotland. and was startled t,() see it ·:iccele.I'at.a l~} Math a. A(~Ctll'dil1g to the respected Scottish daily paper

Blachee! of the BlaK:k

The Scotsman, 'which reported the incident in l"'ehl"Lull'Y 1992, the controller called Mach ri h [In 1 r:; h to' ask wha thad transpired, and was told to forge'l; Vi! hn t h€- had ,s~el1.

Ahout, the same time, another wit- 1'lt~:c$8 a few miles from Machdhanish reported hearing a tremendous noise, like standing directly underneath a d(lpnl'~,i rig mi 1 'i ~~I ry a'i l'Cl'~i't.

j\;lachrihanish ]s one of the rno;sl; remote, least aecesslble :'1il' bases in Europe .. Located near the tip of the rugged K]ntyre Peninsula in western Sot:obhmd, it is many hO'I!.ilI'::; lrom any large tOW~lL by mad, 8JlId it lies OIl. t-he edge of I,he open Atlantic channel between Scotland and northern Ireland.

Machrfhanisb is usually a quiet base, uHod a:.:; a jum.pj1ig~ofj" point for heavilyloaded <;-51; and for marltlme reconnaissance ai.t·'c!'an. (m North Atlantic paLt'olfi, In -1986, reports had linked Maehrihanish to the then-aeeret 1"-1.1.'1 stealth ngh te I'; the bese also hosts a detachment nf US Navy SEAL (Sea-Air-Land) special-opera-

ti ons for' cal; , -

Another une.K.pla.ined phcnornenon was f1eeorded in May 1992, when a phoLo1fnlph(!'r snapped mysterious contrails over Amar i Hu, Texas. Dubbed ·~dm.Jghnut1:i on a rope," the txml.n1ih,l.ppC:<\fCd to emanate li'om a high-speed aircraft Days Iater, ,Inother rnpert .of ai mlln r f.rnfl s wns has.rd;, from the vicinity of M a ell r; hn nish,

In the fall of 1992. I received a letter from Chris Glb~!..l;l, a Scottish oilex p] ur u t h:m a fl. g 1. iJ.'C in" ,Hi d ;:i. fa rm !,W member of the British Royal Observer COI'PS (ll.OC)_ 'flu~ ROC was .[1 VOIIlUl~,eel' oq.pLnir..~t~ull! that had been formed in the 1'920s h) identify <lnd count €!m~rn'y I~in~run, over Brttain. It was n.fii~ of Uw first organizations any-


Chapter One

In the late UnOI';, tILIi! Sooie: Union. deptoy~d UJis fDrntidrlbll~ SlUt 8.I'~Jem, the PM'U-3()O (ImDwn to tlu! West as UU'; .9A-IO Gnunbl~), Combining {Drtg range willi. .(1.

whorote develop W.1tYl'! of ~:raln~~g and testing aircraft recognition. In the 198Ds, Gibson was a muster of' this art, ·[:mtJ peti n!{i if) internaticna I rseogn i tion tournaments where a long-distance shot ,of an a.h"m'ul'\, 'would be flashed 01'1 a S(:rt~en for n fraction ofa second,

Attached to Gibson's JEll,tel' was a I~eat,econ(ltn~cfll sketch o,fwh~~t hG had seen rrom. the oil rig (;aJuefdon

sophieticated guidance {j.rl and grc(~t Ina'oiNt.", if, l'epl'~~~m! ted Cl ,sI!'!rimJ:8 thrl!at to IIw SIr 7.1 ,

Key' in AUgtlst; 1989, G.ibson hr:ld made the sketch just after i.hfl ~,;ighHng, b~lt had kf~pt qulet about it, He was sfill a tnumbur of the HOC at the urne, and as such had signed Britain's draconian amlll.11 St~cl'(.d:!5 Act, lUI evil ]l1oC)1'J.· fiber of ,I Iaw that had been rammed through Pa.rfiamenl, d'.ll"i.Tlg' a. HH I German ,'IllY senru, By 1992, Ofi!1t of th~ ROC, he fel t more able to reveal a

dra.wlng that had nothing to !]I) with hiill{OC duties.

Gibson's r~g was in the North Sea's 'I n dlcfa tlga blo field, directly beneath "I twenty-hy-sjxty-m.lle bluck of ,sky caned Aor·to·Ajr Refueling Area (AARA) 6A. On that day in 1.989, cruising northwardthrough AARA 6A; \V81'e t"VG .F'~ 11 Is an d a KC-13.5 tan ke I'-a n d ... iPJHbt''f.lntly refueli reg from the tanker, an airplane in the shape of a pure isnceles Lriung]e, with a leading-edge sweep of seventy- five degrees. It was a little longer, overall, ~ll,ln~ lhc F~Ub.

It W8iS Aurera=-er at least, what we call Aurora.

The North Sea sighting, the boom reports, and the retirement of the SR- 7Jl sli,IggCi';;!, that iIHll'(H"~ W~~ ~p~n't· tion~l] by mid~19B9" Such airc,I'an ~ire not ereated overnlght: AUJ'Ol'U, with its record-shauering speed and altttude performance and its radical design, must have been Ilown In 1985 QI' 1986, and. the program would have started in 1982 at, th e latest,

Tho idea that the Pautagonis still building bl lhon-dollar aircraft in w a !'U m f!. Ii k~~ ~:W{!·I'(!{::y, even after til e COll;flVti'll of the Soviet Union, bas made skeptics out 0.1' many people. In the 1'9S0s. the Pcnl,agot1 Si")cnt billions ~Q develop stealth aircraft that wouM evade defenses by being hMd t 0 detect and even more dimeul!t. totrack, Whv, then, should 'it simultaneously spend mo rU' m oney on hyp(r!.'soni~ ai r-c;!"ufi.'1

The answers III ay Lie i n the sweeping changes in cJefbnsc policy that took plicf!i,r, tho early 1980s=()fte'll in such secrecy that their magn i tude was never fu.lly '~J)prHc~ul,(lda~~he time, 'The n e ".':)d mi n istration of Presi den l Ronald Reagan, taking olli(:eln Janu.wy 1981, found U11lL thm'~ Wi'!;· ~\ techneology b{tse for a hypersonic aircraft,

There were also a number of reasuns why R@agan's team f.l1UY have Jelt that ttH;JTC was a pressing need for such a vehicle.

By 1981, the SR.'71 fleet had performed thousands of' operational rnissi,ons over China, NOI'I,h Vietnam, and the Middle Bast, find routinely skirted the, edges ofllic Soviet Uni.on-neve.t+ quita breaebing Eisi,1ml'l,OWCI";:; ban ;[i1'1 overflights but eonstan Uy irritating the Soviet ail' defenses. More than 806 misslles had been fired at them. and no SR-7 I had ever been seratcbed (although a tl:'ii8Silo fnlgnHlrlt W~H,l O~~GC< found lodged in one of the CIA:'£> A- 128),

Newer missile,' might PU::lC' more of a threat, In an interview In early UH3,a, Lockheed Sktul.k W'flrkit> chief Ben R.:ich commented that I;he on ly operational system that. was considered a thi'8Ht to the SR·?l was the Soviu-i; S~200 Volga surface-to-air TJliSSE~C {SAM), which had been specifically deslgned to ~htll~t. it down, Even then, it was only a threat ifit ",\'a$ tu-nH~d with a nuelear warhead: ~h(j j)'I'clblcnl was not that it could not. reach the sa·n, but that it was iusufflclently responsive to get dOH(='! 1.0 an evading target.

The 19BO!;l saw the ,r:!dv~nl, ~,r !.WOU nlJ\!" weapons: the PMIJ-;:~no (SA. Ul Grumble) arrd the SA-12 Gladrawr/Giatlt. Both systems have ot simlla} maximum altitude capability to the S· 2M (about 100,000 feQt) but '1UIV{) much better tr ack i nlJ and guidance s;yS:LEHflf:i; the PMU-300, in pal.'Licular, uses the same guidance prinelpl» al;l the US Patriot In ~ ssi le,

:Fur~hcrmoI'e, as the SA·10 entercd service, the Soviet InioTl rcleased the older SA·5 for export, Supplyingthe \ ..... Uilpt)'l:'iJ ·tv Syd~l, Libyfll., and North Korea, and located sites in W~;II-.


Chnpter On~:~

The SA, -12 Gladiator! Giant SAl}' ,sysle:m ltu,Ull1h.c1S two dHl'gl"il'n~ milfl~ae!l. l'hi .. f!. ilelllde carries the larger of them, the: bigge,f;i SAl\</ {h~l3igned since tne ,~~ar!.Y' 196Q.,l,. ,IDW {Ghar 1 t:!<8 Bi ckers

sa w Paet t.el',dto,ry .. These developm~!lt .. ~, would inhibj], SH-7] Op(fl·~ti(Hl~ to an increasing extent,

.An aircreft that new much faster and much higher than an SR-71 would ouUly the envelope of' existing missiles" Indeed, it would be vory hard to design any practicalmissile tochallengs i 1;" A hypersonic aircraft is much harder to shoot down dum i!'l iii. bnlli.1l~ tic missile" The missile is faster, but it

climbs so high on its ballistic track that the d(llf(OnMf': g~t more wtlming of its arrival and Cam predict its hack with greater aceuracy. A missile ls abo uumaneuverabls and, In mO,!:I't cas-es, d t:nmb: ~ t; h asno means of detecting or cvnding U shoot-down.

A hypersonic. aircraft win not l)[~ very maneuvernb]e in the classic sense, but. if. is so ftb!fttht\t even a gen· tle tum or a relatively small change in speed will put it miles away, In mere tens of secnnds.Tmm the proiectcd intereeption pOInt U1<~t the SA1H!l. used 1{)1.' 'I ts f rstfi,llt) sclntiou.

In the thin air abo'!.'t)U)O,OOO feet, a SAJI.,I would el thor need large control sul'f;;u.:e$ or a ramjet with thrust-veetaring control to match. its targct'sma:noi)l!JV~!~S, Il also needs u lUI'g',e warhead hecause~he thin air also fe-dllced blast effects, The result is a la.rge, I'ather high drag Ini.'lsil£"-and lofting such a vehicle tw(~nty·plus miles straight up will take a vm'Y large bocster ..

Fmally, such a missHe-even iif it could be buIH .. ~W(lu.ld be barely mebile, w(mld probably not even :Pl'ot~ct its launch site from observation (because the range 0[) '" obli que reconnaissance sensers would exceed any feasible slant range), and would be 1l.'i'.deS5 agairJisL low·l1ying lI11"goh;.,

Hyperaonics, therefore, are not only survivahle but robust: H costs substantially more to defend 3g(1i:n~1;. them than to build them because defenses can ])r(i,t~~I, only a point, while the hypersonic aircraft can be anywhere.

'l'he age of' the SR.71 f1eot may alse have affected the timing of the program, The Blackbirds were undergoing a m.ajm' upgrade LI1 1981, ineludins the i.ostaHal;i(HiI of a completely new automatic flight and inlet control .o;y::.tcmthatpro.mlsed to make the aircraft considerahly more reliable and

safer, But it was also clear that the ~~ r~raf!;w'[n;!ld n~~d COH!.hw,ed wm"k to keep 1;hE'Jm maintajnahle "in the future, pal'~]Y because thavused so many unique systems and components. A~, somep~);r!t, they w(J~lldhavc W be ei~hm' !luIJi'>tantiHIIY~IPJ1:~'~~dod 01" 1'~placed; otharwiae, iI..eti-l.niss:ion would. be abandoned, lea \'! ng ~l'Ite1Ji tee to I)('lr~bt'tn US ri[~(;Ql:1Jrl~J~ ~!:i;:m(;ci~l dck~ncll· ed areas.

Tot:£!!. re~i£ satellites lsa ves holea in the US intelHgence sttIJCbj.f¢j, eV(~tIJ in the pn~t .. C{lold War era. From tho pel"!jjper.:ti \!~ ofthrll !lGW ikugal1 ad .. ministration, in 19B1, the holeswould havo!':>e·emedi more likoiJ yawningchusms. The r~a!o(Jn~ why are rooted in the natural limitatirms of sateUHe$, lheli' eheckered development hj~tUi'Y, and the Rcagan team's own passionately hald views of the nature 0[' the Cold. War.

WlH.m the SR· 7:~ to were- retired, iiiomc r.OpOl't~l'i'> wcru told th~t the Blackbird had been replaced hy racennaiSSG1!H'::t~ satel litss. They were not l;.o]dl~hii'S un Ull~ record, however. beeanse.officially, there are no reconnaissance ~at.~t~HttM,;,rr u USAf 1·{H;k~l. (or.~;H~ ~;i 1: Ia t(;) 1992. the shu ttld launches a reeonuaissance satellite, 'u"t is deHm"ih~d :R~ a "elf;lHsin,~d ,uly~orl.d." HOW~1VE'~r, enough iskJlown ~.bout the development of reeonnaissance satelIites to give <I thumbnail sketch of theiscapabslities, and oomp:.u·e, the~r flI)ej'uUofw 1. iHl Viltl k.g'(j~ ~it'i.t] Hmih .. tions withthose of an aircraft.

The USAF provides the systems that collect ~,' of the moskimportant groups of foreign intelligence: signals ~n~~nlg:rm(;e (8IGIN'r)<'ll1d ~m·m.g~ ~nt~! .. ilgence (lMINT\ OV-.fir'1'l ]lresponsihil~ ~;y for SIGINT-th1} interception RI.1J.(1 <llu~lYf:l]s of radio-frequellcy ·emi~:;,ion~ fI''I)1n foreign military sources-crests

with the National SeclI.dly Agen,c:y {NSAl Wh~r0 N8.A dcvj'ccs~()ifit[) space or fly, the USAF' provides the platforms. The eolleetion of image inI.emgeru.':e~whi~:h TIm.y be acquired by optica], Infrared, or rader sensors, is ~()'QJ'd~n~~~cl l\y U~() N'H·!~'m[~~ n(j!()ml" naissanee om 00 {NR:O).

'The NSAand tn,(:) NHO each spend mora mm~s'y than ths Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) While thela iter is a hou!\i,f!lwl dwn rd, rcw Ameri eans rna 1" ~ ze th::1.i;. the NRO and NSA exist. 'fhi,.." is no accident: Until the summer of' 118H2, it was a I,echn leal felony to reveal the existence of the NRO. -

':I.'he NHO operates reconnaissance seteltites of two main types: thr. ]-{_I·I, U oJ)pti(:H~ satelli t~,bunt hy TRW, and th(;\ L~\(!'I·{.\~SG ~!;f.ehn' $~tq)U.itc. hruiH by Martin-Marietta. Both types are launehed by T'H.a~·~ TV reel ... ets into pullH!' orbits, ::;0 tlmt thew orbit at nearright-angles to the rotation of the @~rth. A;;; thoi!)Y ~lrh!.l, ~.h()! fl~"u'~h rotntes ~d()w])I beneath UI(l]ti j s,,) that their Dr .. bital traekseress the B<1J1'th's entire surfac«.

Mo.::,;,I. targets 0 finterest ar-c north of UtU (i;quntor, ao a f,)1'l[.eHite is usnallv launched into an elliptieal orbit with. it:?; nottl'iel'rl perigee (closcstpointtc !,ho[J~,Id;il) It~clJtcd[)VC1' the hltitudas (If J','l"e<Jiwst concern, '.I.'he lowest practical pel'~gee'ore {1.tmm5plwde drag :"lhorten,') the :;;;t~tc·lli.oo'~ Iifetirne-« ] i':l some 120 miles.

Wh~l'i. the CIA'~ A .. 12 ~P.YJI~tlfi«l"; were beingbuilt, satellrtes wer{~ in [helrInfarrey. 'Their cameras could not 11'H1 tch the resolution of airborne C~Jn~ eras, and the only way to return jmng~!1"Y Wj~f: ~,g 'U1:!i0 u ~Lmt:kut,"a jQtt]~m~able film podi. Both of these disadvantages have been OV,l'l,'C{) me, by digital data traIH,lnil';!\lml nnd b~t;tlll' opH{;~., but a t a price ..


The only W'w to takehlgh-reselution pi,~1;urc1:l from r~rhital ~t]t]hldes;, covering points t.hat may be hundreds ut milss Irum the sateHI~!~ s gnmml track, is to use the li1rgl;~t and most advanced telephoto lens ever created, The opi.l(:lll sYi':ltcm or IU! im~.g~111:t satellite iis similar in size til) a ]arge as~1"f.mumUca.l telescope, with a primary mirror that may be more than six feet in. diameter. It is mainly f()I< this 1'8ason Ll'm1. OI1ti.C.il1 l'QI;.\Ot\nUlI'5SlIrlCe satelJiles. arc VSIY largeand expensive.

Cameras 1)1"1 an aircraft do net have ttl ]m)l~ so far, so .'.1 muehsmallar camera can echieve similar resolution. 'rh{~ te¢l'lniC[ll (}bJecti.V'c cameras nttud to the SR-71; which wei1~inf:;hd]0d in the chine bays, have similar resolution ~~J the giantlenses uf the KH-U.

Less is known about radar reconn,'~i~iiiW1C(l 8Htemtr::S, hut ~,hey aile also 1~.rlfQ and costly because their radar systems are designed to achieve high tGs.oluLiotlrlt '!Ql'ig runge. Afi"lli'eh~l' problem. is providing power for the radar. Solar ealls can provide eieeL:dcal power in daylight, although nul~ on an ab l.I[Hl tint scale. '..['h'ey cannot help when the satell ittl ;::; hi the shatd()w of the earth-and observing targets-at nigh t I!o> one of the main reuseus 1'01' hnvinj; Ol radar SHt'~1Hi te in tile fj r·st place. One expert has speculated that mueh 41f th o I l1Ci.'OSS,s'f; muss is accounted for by batteries,

The power' available to energize ~l radar 'on board an aircraft, (in lhe other hand, 1S, limited only by the size or Uw' g-cnemtors ins tou n ed; the airera fl radar needs less power in I.hl1 ilr::;t place heeause its targets are closer.

SHI,.t:llik: costs rn.:t'('! (;()t1{!i,)u,lcd within the Pentagon's cl assified budget, but, mnstauthorities believe that each satellite costs several hundred million doH<i1"8VO build and test. In addition,


each satellite is launched by a $200

millieu-plua reelect, .

Satellites cannot be economically recovered or rna In Ll'!1 ned on orbit rrlu;!-y require a supply of fuel to kefll) them in a stable orbit, and when that fuel .us {)xh austed UH)Y !.H'C do-orbi l,ed and burn up in the .,1 trnosphere, Howe v er, the fuel Is also usee! to change the satellite'sorbit, This takas. the torrn or an "in-plane maneuver-s-nudging tile sutt11lita .. idewaYi;; around lh'f! earth, while it CQn6m.l'~s its polar orbit

Satellites have unique operational advanteges. Once {,i~'bihtl, tl1ey ~H{!· vide routine and consistent eoverage over 'Iurge areas. They cannot be down; and their operations, hv interna tional la w, are not a violati on of anothe:t' {!Oi!lntry's sQver(lignl,y.

On the other hand, sate Hites are predictable. ThlJycan be observed as they are launched, and tracked with telescupes and radar, (In d their rising unci s,~tt.i~l')lg U!'nm:1 ean be aecurately predicted. This allows intelligence t,u'" gets to conceal or mask j,hein·aoetiviti,es., A satellite operatrrr (;,HI surprise the target once with an in-plane maneuvel" hut, o very such mane uver cats into the sa tcllite's fuel n"'f;~ rve and. hence its life expectancy,

An ~it'cnl.ft i~ more Utli)l'\C'!dh.=h\hle.

It can be made even more so if its operational tempo and routines ate ["1)1'1" cealed by I};'i.slng it ]111. an area where its departure cannot be observed by rOJ'eign~ig.,:mts. Ti.nH,H:Jv(Jl"·~o!'Il'g~~ i~ controlled by the operator: a pas::> Iuil.'!' be selected ~l) cumcide with a spcelfie event (~hips leaving port ;Jt high tide, !hr instance}, to take advantage of low, diI'(!ct .nwrn!ng 001' evening Ughl" or to catch a predicted break in ~h(,,~ weath-

Lo'ngevi!,y If'; nnother Oldvantag'i,) (if the aircraft;. -Not all setallites are rna-

uauvered in the same way over their Hfhl;j,mHs, whiehaecounts for diff.cj'· ences in life €xpedancy among satellites, S{) far, th,e longest survival time for "my recennaissance f'iaV~llite is five years, for a .KH:-11 launched in 1987. How¢Y~r, ~.ll;;dy~t$ suspsct thi!\t ~h~ craft had l)een inoperative heJnte it was de-orbited in 1992. Three years is a more typi(;~ll lifetime. Ew::h satelli te on orbit, therefore, represents a $.200 million-pl us annul'!! I ,ilrnori.iz{~d {l(;M';"~ ib,· h~ilrdw~re ~;1Uon(L

The SR-'l"ls had been in service for mors than tw~nty-one yearswlum tl~ey were retired, Ev'~m ]f a replacement Hi:l:'craft (!JOst a [)i.i.liorl dollars, the hardware portion of' its tntal life-eyele cost wouJ!ld be Qm:e·,j~hlrd to (me-qu.tI,'"OOr ofthG 0ti~t of k(.lcping 01110 l:l~~t~IHto :;tiiitien filled over the same period,

A:rlOtbel: dlsadvantage of s,;d,el~itc8 i:s tn.)titishard tu bulanee peacetime needs with wartime or crisis demands, In [),~~get!lml, ithl'lfCU,Y m~tters if a target is covered by d(Jlld today: another satdlibJ p<~,sswm get it tomoreow or the da,y <If-iter. This cuts no ice wufh. a combat commanderwho needs to know if hi~ ah-cn.rt rnust re<Jittach. a target w]thin hours. or a cnHunande,I'-in,e,hief who needs; 1,0 Imowif an hiV~)!\.l(HIi Hu'D:1.!; tV~ln .ally

is rsal or a bluff. '

One way to increase the n'equew::y of passesls 1.0[) (I~'bit more s<)t~':1Iit8:;; during <JI. crisis. Butthis demands 1), l~\l'gc j'C~[,)·~'VC :;tu(,:l ... uf ~ilcl rockets, something whiehean be done wil,h smal], 't{lw-r(!so~uU()n \'ehidc8 but nut with the bi g, ex pensive sa tclli tell> in use now, 'K'he adler way to increase ,.,ho number of p,~~:;;Q~ [s it! make extravagantuse of in-plane maneuvers, but this mSJY result in a lack. of coverage later, ~n aatallitesrun out, or fue] ahead of schedule, and before replace-

Blaehee: Q/,the Black

8Mtjwuln)· ~'Ji l~r!~.nuh! 1.!'!{r,'I~i{.l~ In lss U1~. [.r~g (~(1,p,adly. the· 8pat:I;!ShuJtfe hw:! prvuen. disu[J[)IJ'il1r-iJ.rg il~ it~ mWI;tu'Y uUr.U;y,. Ont:1! 1;f1"~n (1.$ t.he I?X,~l!l.sbM l,r;mn(,;hr-l' of US mJUhWY $atellfles, liM BJwub:~ !1e.w its lmu PI!11.t,agon mii'i;,;,km bt {,rH',11 l'FH)2. R[Hikw~lll

merit vuh~chJ~ (:.mbc completed, tested, andpu t (}]1 orbit,

S~t~llili~ m~ti~gem~!~t wa~· at th~ root of the con troverav {wet s l'l. tt':]li j,e t.'Ovurage in the Gulf. Ai a postwarconterenee, rat-ired USAl" chief of stan' Gen. Michael Dugan eommented thai, i'Oal,oUi ttH; had. fHiilml to au PPUl't the combat units "because they were scheduled by God ~nd I{.e,p~e!'·"" Bm'n~wil R:mdlllph~ ~J f[H'ttH'::I' (:(lmm~JifIdeli' of ·U Sllffi"s Space Sjo'S.tems Division


Chapter One

Delle/oped by L1'V., NH' ASM-l:j5 anti;",,,rf!Wt.f! (A.SAI, ~J""r(!m {'"u"l'ii.~d under Od.'! F'-IS proved ,cclpable (If dtJ.$'lr"oyi.ll# .satd{ifR.,~

and 11IOW II. $QliiQt 'rRVl eX,{lCUUVCl, riposted that the satellites WCl'C "sehedHIed by 50m'E weenio in Wash.ingLL)I'i, which if! why thuy didn't support the troops."

]),~~(n't Storm cnmrnunder Gen.

Charles A. HOiJ'''!'IE~l', commander-in{ihie~ nr the US Space CDllirnand, pointed {Jut that "in the hl'H.:I,w'ol"ld, the customer, the operator and the acquirer uru allthe s~ma IU~ilL. j~. thO' NRO) and I am not strre I.h'lt ~(~rVI1S the black weeld well, because certain~y we found in Desert Storrn that !J~Cj customer happened to be operating

in orbit with a s/lOtgun Mm;J of metal {m:g. ments. L'l'V

out of' the Middle E~,sV'

Aircraft are fat more f1cx~ble as well, Assuming I.h~;It, satellites are the most cost-etfectivemeans of hnndling the bu ~kof peacetime recon na i !5s'1JT!(.:e;: u wing- of spyplanes mi!~~lL fly only DJ handful of operatiunul missions in fl: month, plus a few more sort ies for traini I'ig. but most L.ra:i ni ng tO~'ild he carried out on a simulator, In a crisis, however, ai]"{~I"an earl. shift to a highm" operel.iunol tempo or even "f;IJl"WJ" for a short period, fly] Tl g ten or more ti'm~s I1S mn ny !l,O'i'UcS .'is in .IH'llH:C.1- time.

Adding more satellites, too, provides better coverage nVt~t' UnJ on~Jru world; extra, miis,:;ions are direeted only where they are needed,

Tho ::;;(1, talltte's bas LO d rs wbacks have always been appreciated. In fad, in the HI'7IJs. a serious attempt 'Vi!M mucic to overccme them. Many ·of' the raeonuaissanee satellite's disadvant~ ges would he much k:HH, iml:H.iI'h"I'ilt if it: was pra: .. iical to refuel or repair the satellite on orbit, or to bring it down tn earth, refurbish ]j" and aend it up agflJ~n_ The NRO planned to deexactly tb is ll'1l tho e~l'~Y' 19'70s, lL!sJng ~h,p' space shuttle,

Fr'On'~ itsineeption, the shuttle was ~11':l amphibian, living mostly In the glaring light of the National Aeronaul.iciR and Spt~,(!;(l Administration's (NASA) pl)lblicit.y machine but drawing much of its nourishment r:r()ltt the black depth.!'i of th· in ooHigtli'i<;{') t.:[i'l'i'i. munity.

When NASA began to study the shuttle in the late, 19608, the ag:(:~r1iCy saw that the project. could not meks economic sense unless t~b(;l: shuttle g'@. placed an. other US spaeeIaunehera, including I.h(),~,e whi{;h the USA[·· used I.I) Iaunch the NRO'~ spy satellites. The Department or DefenRe (DoD) a.g,"etld t~} thii'i before t1'1' shuttle pro-

gni m ~ fr,i,lrh:1d in J1<lly 1972, '

In 197.2,. a shuttle flight was; SLIp" posed to cost *1OJi millinn, and f.,lt,U~ orbiters wen": expected to make 580 fi.'i.gM;s between H179' and HHH) , (H' about 50 flights 'per year, About a dozen flights a ;yea,;w(Juld start at Spacu Lnuneh Complex 6 ~it Vandenberg Air Force Bass, Lompoc, California, from which the s;:'Itt~nitm; could be safely h"llJnc:hedint{1 polar orbit",

Shuttle flights would he so frequent andcheap thai, ~IH! NRO could plan 3 new class of lung-lived, rsfue-

lahle, recoverable satellites, This be'ell me the Lockheed Missiles and Bpaes CompmlY Illi-12-an extremely eapab~e" muUI·spl~d.r~~l imaging satellite which "bC(;~1l1S,r; H enuld b~ g'~fuol~d, would have an almosl.unlimited maneuverlng eapahihty. It would ulso h 11 ve some ~u rgu ea paci t.y; In a crisis, the NRO could drive the .KU-12s all nv ,r th(i! IIU~p and bump other pay· loads from the shuttle manifest to make way for more refuelmg flights.

The shuttle fell light years filmr~, or NASA's predictions, ll(l\\;ever, Columrn:{~ made i.t,l; flri;;t fHgllt in Apri.l. 1981.; two years behind schedule; it "'V~<JiS clear by then that the ,shuttle's rre(~~Jcn{~y and cnfil. j.,l\):L1~ would not be attained. A Hmo manifest called for thirty-nine nights by Seph'lmhef' 1'!l84; by the time that date <in'1"1V(;1d, however, only twelve flights had. been performed. 'I'here were also s rlous l.cmh n i en 1 prob le ms with the Vandenberg faeiljty, In view (}f" I.h e de lHY:\l,th o V SAl" prevailed on the DoD to abandon its m.-nm.ltment to use the shuttleexcl uaively, andorder'I,'Rl II rmw j..,"{!rHll'n'~ion of Titan boosters from Martin-Marietta,

Then, on the lwenty.ri nJl shuttle in -Ianuary '1986, the orbiter Challenger exploded. Soon afterward. the USAl'" mmhballad th~ VN'l'1dcnbOl"g facility .. A I'llilndif]{,~d KH-.!.2, to be l'_;ll.mchcd by the new ']'itan, was under ecnsideration for snme ti me but 11P= pears to ha ve been . .,btmdoned in 1988,

nut t.ho operational po'tential of ~JI(~ KH ·12 'had Dfo':",'1l11 to dimlnish long before it was canceled. .EVf~ry ~ime the ~1H1Lt1 : f>c:b~(lult!· H~jppi)d til' tho C{)t,;t· of ,l shuttle bunch went up, the KH-l2- became less flexible and [ess eeonomica.1.

'rhe Cha lleneer 105s was also a reo. rninrlcr that ~~n- m,ir·br~nj.hing r{)(llf)naissanee ,s,)'sl.em is ~H~;insur=


Chapter One

ance policy, In 1985 and ] 9tl6, as the NUO W~S ~)!!'I!!'H].iT1;!.l'''O phaseeul, ~hc KJ]-ll in. f'i\'Ol" of the KH-12,) the 10::;8 of the ClwNenger and the explosions of two 'I'itan bO()f't'L'ir~ left the United States with only one IMINT satellite ~ rl (J r hi t., .EVCl1 i n I 992, aeco rdin g to General Horner, DoD launches were chronically late, and the limitations of ~aunc:h :racmt;io~ have Poll!, ihu sehcdule "in a hole that we cannot get out of,"

By 198:1.; nnhraly could raalistlcally as,se."t thai, a ahuttlc-supported satelIite (:0'1.11 d match the Ilexibi lity, lOW1llltfvity, and t.ill.l.rg'C!! onpubility of th~ aircraft al. any reasonable cost; one more argumont against an SR-71 replueemeut was on UH~ point. of enllapse,

B~~~ there was aenther, mtl(Jh mora important reason why i i, ii.~ most nnlikely that the Reagan administratien would have i'it;lg'lcctQcl the need to kCU'I) a rflhust, air-breathing reconnaissance {:upubHity, Mos!. diSt~u!o;:-:;io.fls of the te· eonnaissance abilities of satellites 0fI1l(), aircraf], inducUng the precedingparagl·, j' 'st 011 OIli.1! nssmnpU.Oi.1.: tlHi.t both are used in peacetime or in medium-intenslty Vietnam-type cnnflicts, in wh i dl the WOI."St th rea L fA »the reconnaissance vehicle is a 8Mt tired .un eli· t'e-cL d!i!l'cnH" of hostile tetri~o!'y,

Reagan's strategic :3ldvisol"!:;, veterans of the outineusly named Committe em the Present Danger. believed that assumptions of that kind were su !It:'i dally d~\i\.g'QlI:O~LS, Tlw,Y' believed that the SovietI nion \"'<\8 arming for conventional WUb' and seeking nuclear ~uper'ioi'ity, preparing l.o i1gi11. and win a n uclear war that III j gh t last weeks or months .. Ut'l'ln",!5 the United Blate.~ deVeIO~H:1d a or superior {~::I~Jabih~ ty, they believed, the cmlTltry would be, u ria ble to r i ~k ~h{~ u se of t] uel ~!!.~I r weapons and would be Iikely ttl ]OSC


Uu~ initiative in amy conventional conflict,

In October 1981, President fte,I"' gan signed National Security Decision Directive 13 (NSDD.1S), which Instructed and authorized the Pentagon to plan andequip lb.,' a six-month nuclear war ending in vi-cto'I-Y. The goal was to develop systems that could. suppert "centrulled nuclear ~Imn~,!,)r-ut· I,:l(:kl$ over an extended f)lJ1riodi while maintaining a reserve of nuclear forces sutflcient fi)r t,r'H1!S· and POShl!,tack protection <lind coercion." .

Tho Penta~"(,n ~',egn:n to invest hundreds of billions vF dollars in new nuclear weapnna, such as the Il~2 bomber, the Advanesd Cf'Uifi;~ M~:!, the 'I'rident D5 submarine-launched misslle, and the ~1X raij-mobile lmHvy haUif;ti:t: missile" Less viaible but just as important W:).'$ the Milstar commul'i.ica:tiol1s .':i,[~tu,mtc' ~ysb~m, de.!ligm~d to maintain control OV8.1' this new foree.

AU the' new weapons had two features in com men: they were designed to ride out a first-strike nuclear attuck, nndth~y ware uecurate unci could be easily retargeted, Mils-tar was the nucla .... " machine's nervous s,Yi'iM}m, s{mdil1g- turgetil.1g data to the platforms, But ill: wOlll d u H be: m uch less useful ii' thl! i5ystcm was blind.

There is no sign that UH~ NRO'~ reconnaissance satellite system was ever de5iigneci to survive 'i r101.H.:lflla,t WIl.!". It. could barely endure a conventiona 1 C.M1 m,rt. Moreover, the hal ancn or power in Vi space war ,,,',18 tilted in favor of the Sov'.~t Union,

The U~rlio1'l. h;li,d deployed an operational anti-satellite (ABA'!) systNl1L in the fll:ld·Hn08, and. although the effectiveness of this 'weapon w~s disputed (the Pentagon said it would. ..... ork) th{lr(;i wn~ no 1'00LI!IOn t:hat. tl bettel' system .r;lJulld not be developed,

based either on missiles or an ~roundbased ]Hi)m'S,

'I'he US did develop a small ajrlaunched ASA,]" but did not field it. ASAl' litelchnQlug,V W~~$ more dangerous to the United States-which launched relati ... ely fe \'1':" ~ ong- Ii ved sa l,u Hi t(~Sthan the Soviet. U 11 10011 i which. launched four to five times as many vehieles in l!i!!i! ;fi!}\!~l'ag'(~ .'r'~al", Thu SU'll, et satellites were less valuable targets and {i_'isk~l' to replace.

1'1i~ US bunch facilities were' also far more vulnerable than their Soviet equlvalents, n.Q~,h US launch bases-« NASA's KCIlll00ciy Space Center and the U SA}" s Vandenberg AF13-Oill-·C coastal :Rit~i1 thai, can be kept under eontinuous surveillance from international airspace; both, in the 'lei nd 0'" conventional war envi~aglld in the Cold \Val" era, could have been attack ed by' non-nuclear. rad u-guided heavy cruise missiles launched by 1'u, 05 long~range ,dn.:raf't or snbmurines; both, eVCT'11 nOW1 arc more vulnerable than most sites to covert seahorne attac,k;.,

\Vhi] e t-h{~ United Sta tee: con ld be taken out of the space launch business quite quickly, the Snviut Unjon'~ launch SIte8 WC:IC located deep inside tho Sovlee Union, imrnun Irnrn G:On,ventional attack.

Wl:Hlll the early J ~8(18 warfighting pluna aplnti"cntly lacked, and it was ,';I, glaring omission, was any ~,ign of .<'1. survi vahle, cnntl'nl'iab'lc rceennatssance ~Yf'iteni thnt ~~ol.]M find mobile targets, such as missile Iaunchers, Or ~lSSIilS.s damage to IH'!DLc!L:hld or l'i,xcd targets .. The KH -12 could not fulfil this m issf on because the shutt.las that

• vould service it were not sUi'viv;lhh;.

A hypersonic <l!irfran,on the other hUflu,(!:{)uld fiU the tm'gct-spoUin.g I~l{ easily, Assuming that .s.m-

Blackl?sl oj'lhe l3lnek

vived as designed, it eould tnlilillsmit recrmnui:::;sam'c data buck to the at.tack control center in real time, where it could be h.terp.retecl .~ndu~.,~ed as the basis Hir Llii'g ·Ving,. The hypersenie aio'craft could search roads and rail lines Un' mobile intercon Ll n~~nl,a 1 lJ<.dlis,U{~ missiles {TCBM) and communications systema, and check air bases for surviving bombers.

'the hypersonic ait'cr;~ft {:(n,11d pass targeting dH'La tu TC-RMs, D5s, or B-2s,. and mig'ht alISO be teamed v .. ith more radical weapons, In the early 1980s. Lockheed i\,'F:iss:ilus and Spnoo Company wf)Jl (1 .'l-ccrd. contraet to C1.evelop a strategh.: hypersonic-glide veh icle {HGV}, Itwas (Je!.<!igilml tobe hllllt'lchod from .(I R·52, at 68,000 feet-lit is ,58]dum realized that a n,.52 can reach that kind. of altitude, IHJti tl:an-it would be rocket-boosted W Mach 18 at high ultitudc, ~li.'id CQuld glidfl more than 5,000 miles to its target, arriving barely thirty minutes after launch. The main d'-lalU,tlnh"l; w~~~ lJ,crodiYl1<1mic haating: the HOVWfiS made or heat-resis'tant c:!!I!'b(.l!H;~rHh!'Hl c,mlpo~H{l skin panels C)tln titamum substructure, Us plunform, interestingly enough, was tli pure triangle with il~ 1, ndi.lilg' cdt-t's swept l)i, seventy-five degrees.

With t.he response speed or the ba listie missile and the short warning time and ter-miria] maneuver perforrnunee of l;i eruise missile, th~ NGV could he launched against mobile targets detected by Au rCM'rl tmd hi t them be iCJI'eI,hL'lY h ad l;~ me to TTWVC,

It 18 an ontsid.e chance that Aurora jt~¢lf was; liks the SH-71, designed for a reeonnaissanee-strike mission not just spotting for other weapons. Ben Rich, in a 1983 interview, lamented the fact jJU1t the SR,71 had never been armed. He noted that the standard AGM-69 Short-Range Attack Mi~~~,ilo,

C}u;wter 1

whichwould fit. in an SR-71's chine buy. WOLLl d go 30Inih~:;, from a S!JHlevel launch, 100 miles from <l B-fi.2'$ cruising aJl:.~tude, and 500 miles from an SU,"'71, "Wo n:.:i:ed to make the Soviets worry abeut airoraft at 100,000 feat," he said. !,I,Wc\r!) given away the high ground."

Hypersonic aircraft bavc a unique olfensi ... c pDt~n~i.1 because they uru immune from direct attack by the; d.~fonses, and because the]!' sheer speed can be lurn e d ill to Hlk m mocha n j ~ rn, .M.(:DonneU Douglas studied hypersunit: strike ~':J:il"l.~n:!:n ~hnt, were !!inned with conical missiles that n~sf~Hlh1cd ICB:!\'f. ra-entrv vehicles. The missifes Wet'{: bi.H.ii:lb~(C to Mnch 12 ~tft(j!!·I.JHl'tH:l1 und were designed to hit t}H~DJ' targets at mnl"('! t:h an Mach "1_

Unlike an aircraft, these one-shot vehiefes could be protected from the 11. ~ t by ~lhlti.tive cooati,I'!~~, milking .fIt~~:'h h-igh speeds posRiblc at low a~l.ilUd(!Thev would be accurate because their launch aircraft, safe frorn l~l,)t~(;:lnsivE! rLn~" could guide them all the ~vay to impact ,'i,~. n microwave Link; !i;L~ltlies showed l.h~lt they would luil, within m: wen feet of their aim-points,

"At 6,000 reel, pCI' second, n fxitllfld of metal rel eases as mach energy as a pound of 'l'N'A',.~ says Paul Czysz;prnrl~8~~~r (If aerospace engineering ai, at Louis Uni versity and one, of Ule leadil'lg US mq)Cl'ti$ on hypr.!'l1{)'t1ic; teehnol .. ngy, who worked. on sorno of the M(~Donnell stud.ies. A solid penetrator weighing 20(1 peunds would t'cnrry enough energy to 1.i.ll ~"hc Kirov [a 28,00'0 ton l;3(),vil.1!!. cruiser] ten fht~~. flut of the water, ~ he explains. However, whaL it would actLlally do is slice th i'n u 14"h the s hip' s steel sides m~,,(~ I] hot knife through butter.

AIL(:!nlai,i:vd.y,a.n,~ivn cord could JH:1cl open the pnnetrator bod,}"


just before impact and dispense a. hfli] of tungsten darts called 11 echcttes. Three-pound flcchettes wml1d shred iii concrete bridge and one-pound darts would d,astr;oy tanks,

Hypersonics could al:"llJ phi.)' a role in the emerging dnctrine of "nonlethal W:1l'ftlrc,"w-hi,ch lo(}k~ 'It ways fir dii'Oabling or destroying the ruaehjnes of war w~thtmt kiJHng j,hdl" operators. For exomple, a 100 p{)lJ.nd payload nr Bn-size pellets, dispensed into a 100 fb(;.-t diameter t1:oud, would nlJliterfLt[:1 every nidal' <lind communications antt!tm'a on a warship and leave i~ blind and deaf, witho'ut sinking i.t. UI" harming any (:rcw below deck It is more m~u-Iy, though, ~lm~ Aurora. wa~ designed as ..-u'l intelligence-gathering system because this would explain the secrecy that has enshrouded dH1 prngn.m from hirth_

For Lho national .. lnd.elligcnceeom, munil:.y-the CIA, NSA, and NRO, and all till} aetivities 'that relate to. their misaions-e-te dt!Tibci;~'it~ly de{~ci vc the public is not just an unfortunate necl'!;f;sity. Covel' and eovurt are the, pl'ilicipalwords in t,h'l1 secret world'svucuhu lary. "A~ open war depends on wenpom" £0 does ~~wt,;ucl'.r;l '",',"'1" dt!,· pend on cover," a Fonner C1A. operative expl a di n the 19():3 hou k A S tiort Courne in tit ' Secret Wnr h)' JumGs MeCarga, ~Weaponf.: <lrc not in themselves the pl,:ll'PI}fI('l of' WUI', but th y shield the soldier and enable him 1.0 advance to his objective-or they pD'otN~t his tt~trnat, Gover shields thu secret l1gGl'nL from his opposition."

'l'hucommnnity iluti shielded its techrrica] means fIr' gnthering J ntfi 11 igenee as tighUy as it has ghjeld~d its human Jl.lll':Ct'l~~'. [f t~n .(l,(]vm":;;!1't'Y Im~]·w@O next to nothing about the systems that eun observe hlrn, the; argument runs, he is unable to \.18e camoufluge, con= o!'the Bla.:ek

if. i· ~

In the ear!.y .1:9ROs, Ow P(Jfl.tfl.gon inueeied bH{{unl;J i.11 new,. mIilJd"j', {a:r;tllTl{~ fwdr.m"

cealment, and deception to frustrate Or' mislead the l[.JSintdlljgence communi. ty .. Lining the covel' on ln~,~!llig"CIH~C f'iV!'i~,em::; reduces their value,

Since the. l-Sinl:(llligenee community ~Iook shape hi th~ !9~:;n~,. jJ, 11tH'!; '"0· vealed ~lS little about iI.Sl'l(:I~ivities as possible. Off'ielaH}" the US governmant has never In unehed a ny :spy satelli I.e,::;; one of the rea.'tons that. we

strike we(~pmt$, illduding !.hf! H-.1E. Itvek\'\i!o!ll

know they e~-.:i~j, find lJ'ifre wakuow what their lifetimes moe ts that their launehus cannot he coneealod and that th'-JY can be tracked in space.

In 1:991, art apparently genuine CIA Ili~I;iJ"Y of th(;l A·12 pl"u~:mm 'iNfII,s"ted widely 3i1"rw["]_g Skunk Works observers and insiders. One 0[' the ]S~ sue!'; i,~ l:li!;\(,:~lF:;fi)ccl W.[l!fl the replncement oJ' the A-12 by the SR-7L 'I'he author


Chapter 1

Northl"op's B-2 stealtt» nc.>mb!'!'1' al!'.~ig1t.r.~d it) arifJp nueleer bomr,~ r~drlr pi I! • poi.n;' (1,.ccurm;y -t.m I[(!CI~JUJ' proteeted, umUdtttfill.drui tmll~~h, !:1Il1d by th« t!:CfJl. m~ij.l(!,

har4~n(!d M.ii"lar S·C! rdlUl! sys.l'ern-bu.-t the ~(~t/Jmffl/l' OWl 1l!fwbi pt"'ti>uhh~ .tJI(l (l~i~a Hiat .would di.~,s(>min(Jk would quichl_)' b~1 dC.iltl'()J'(!d ill ml,'!' IHu:lr!tu' tuar, NOI'~lu:'Op


noted that the eTA campaigned gtro:ngl:y to koep the A-12s l:n!'H\H·VLf!C, ifn parallel with the USAF's open SR- 71 operation, nne reason was that, ]U the CIA's view, covert WOlS beUer~ Increasing the possibility of surprise and. Gonf;usiIlg' tb ~ adversn l'Y'S cO\'il'lwril'i. tel-

ligenceexperts. .

Ain;:ral"t can be more (lover!. thun satelljtee, As the 8]1-71 S showed in l'973".when they flew 1.'5,000 mile nOI1- ~tgp t(d5~imu; ever the Middle Em.;~., airerart (:UJl cover the entire globe without landing outstde tho United States. Tbey are net up in 1ilP~CB and able to be tracked twentj-four hours a day, and '~beh' takeons ennnot be observed as satellite kl~Ul.~:..h:(£8 can"

In ttl€ 19!80s, the secrecy thaI;. had rOITIf1."i']Y covered intelligence l)ctivitiC's was extended. to the new weapons of nuclear warfighting. The B=2 W.lS developed <IS a black program, [HHI its operational characterl fi,HC8-ra:nge, bcmbload, nne] sm'lt>Ol's-W~l'e sttlcUy classifled. J\.·mstar was similarly classi~ied. Tho Lockheed HGV proj!Jd was even more deeply buried.

It is therefore netat all d:ii'i:iJcL]R to bo1 i eve ~I1!1t, in :l.9.s1-1~B2, the US government awarded ;;1 development eontract Iora hypersonic manned I'(~cnnnais . sance aircraft IJ) succeed the SR-?!, to complement ;;1 constellation of nonreccverable sutullites in peaeetime, and t~l provide wartime 1'"1':[;OJln aiasa neg for 11 uclaar WiH'figh ting W'~~lpU1HH and that I,h(! f,li=O,l('H.:t WU, from the start, eovcrcd by the same I(~ ... el (If cl asaificution as 'tfleonnuhs,fi.flm;C $,

Lockheed's Sk~nik Works., now the Lockh eed Adv~triced DGV~ lap mont Company, is by far the n~ost likely prime contractor reI' Aurora. Throughout the U ~)80~" financial analystshave coneludcd that Lockheed has been en-

Bbu:'kest of the Blac"~

gaged in several very hug-e classifled jH'ojecLs, but ~h(ly lH:i,v[il IH~v(!D' heun able 1;0' identify enough 0[' tham to account for all the company's income.

Technlcally, the Skul1kWorl~s has a unique record. of managing large, hlgh-l'i sk progrs m~ ~m der n veil 01' 1U':Iparalleled seCrt"ley_ It also has a record, even .In $1..I('h risky projects, of deliver'i rig w h"it ~t prom] sed to (i,L'! UV(ll".

With the collapse of tile Soviet empire In th~~al,~l9HO~, many people fe~t H1:f.ij. HH;~ US government's cnver]. aeUv"itics would becuf bade 'This happcned, but on~~ to i';l~~t'i'c t):~;Wl)t, Th~ black budget peaked in 1'988, and declined steeply thereafter as the Penta.~Qn declassifted spendingfigures for major weapon systems such as the B-2 l'l.nd Mil~b,II'.

The core of the hlack bu dg-e:tmost oril. 1.0 du with intelligence enlleetion-nsintuct. As noted f!::l!rlil~~r, the Pentagon's unclassified budgl~t request. fO'I' fiscal y~fJ.r 1.99:1 appears to include almost ,$1Gbillion for classified resea reh, dovolopmen t, and. Pt'O{'UI'Cmcn t J)l·o,icch..

This .it'; only an estimate, based on the ussumptiou that the UI'I"lilf5s.ified Dc)D budget includes accurate total budgets H)]'I~]] services andmost D(~D aganeles ..

Black programs are camouflaged in several wa'y~ in the unelassifled version of the hud~'"Ct. Some are idenLili(·~d hy codenames. AIr Fnrce codcnamed Hne ib:lfI,ll sw::h t.l~ Centennial and Senior Citizen (both tactical R&D programs) have no dollar amounts listed. Ill] j, indi vidual !>e rv ice bu d!,"Ct[-i;i nclu de subtotals 1'01' different categories of sp~ndJng, Fm' example, in thn ,[:U:-1iU of USAF R&D on strategic sy~t<.~ms; the total of the Hrll~ items in the category does 11C'J~, ~'KiWi 1 the c.:ategm"y total, The diITererbl:.:e"":"'$39'9 million-iiS account-


Chapter 1

ed for by black programs. Research and deve,lnpn'-H.:mt ussoeiated withintelligence programs is 95 percent h~ack: ,$2.11 billion in llseal year 9~3,.

C]a.5fdfi.tH~ rllnd~flg is also concealed under umbrella line items. For ii1stanec; a'!glc line itA:Jm Ibi' "soleetad activities" is ihuril'~d in thcpenultimate pagu of the USAl' procuremem btl dact, l.mdler "other procuremen t" and Listed below such exciti J1 g j terns as. !'p~JI.(lt, air ea rgo,"

AI. $5 _ 56 billicn, it is the bi gges t single line item hJJ the M.UI'e DoD equipment budget, H is four- I1Rhs as large ,)S the entire procurement budget i"0l' tile US Army, and it, ha:s lncreased to match inflation sineu ]9'91_,

Ab(lut three-quarters of the black ttH.i'l'iCy ( under $12 billion) \1,,' .. i'i I'-~ quested. for Air Force prngrams: $BJj billion Iill' resourch and development and ss.s billion For procurement-production. of' weapons, spares, and supPC'i!.'t equi.p!ncn~. The rnuin l'WU101fl for this i,e. that the activities that support i n t~ llige [H!(\- gather! ng S,}, ste In sa ~'f~ oy.elwh-elming~y buried w~thiTi ~ll'l~ Air

Force. - -

There arc some large 1L.I'lCel'La;.nUt)~ in caleulations of thiskind. An,~.lyst ,J,ohn Pike of -the F{~(tcratioll of American Sd'ntists, 1~n' xample, is convinced that the vast "Selected Activities" line itsm i[.;. In r~H_;j, thcOpCI"Hting budget ef the CiA" rather than being part of U8AF'procuremen t,

Oil the other ha nd, the I)l"o[)~(jH'5 or calculating the black budbtet from the g,lrlS and! ineonslstencies in the. unclassificd edition seems suspiciously ai mple. As. noted .in 'Tirn Weiner'» detailed study of 1,11 ' bluek budgot, Jj,{an.l~ Checl«, the intelDigence' wOI'1 d can a 15<0 be funded Irnm other' programs: unspent funds C~)Ti be transf '1"1' id from almost any federal activity with very


little effective oversight 'I'hare is no QV~~,t evidence thl~t ~f'ltdJrHg'l:)fl(Xi llJ(!ti'l/~ties have been supported by funds from outside the Pentagon bu{ig~~t, but no-one who ha::1,shHli~{l the specks' Byzantine history would. dismiss such I] possibility as out of' h!!I!nd,

What I.S certain i.~" ~h~it the black budget in the 1980,s contained enough mOI1"Y for an Aurorapl'ogram, At an educated guess, such apreject would prnbe bly havp {!m;t IU'().J[Hld $1 billion a year on ll:~se~I.f1ch and development, in its peak years, plus several hundred milhon dQ~l:lJiI'~ for eaeh aircraft, Thu~'l~ would prebably net be many airereft lrrvclvcd: the GILA built only fifteen A· 1:205, and less U1 an twen j,y Au 1"01'<18 would !)I'obably fin any conceivable missio'li'i l'ctlui.r'!'Hn.ilrnt, 'l'h'lii! ~i!"cnlrL would have been hand-built, to :1 greflt extent: .Extl:!fl:::.ive tooling and uutomaI.ion would make ]10 sense for a short production run,

11'1 11990s P~nt~:tglm ~lI·g(,lt t\UI"Ol'lI is wh at is cal] eil. a "silver bu ]let" progr.a Tn: U syatem acquired in small numbers, but so revel ut:ionary in it!:i capabilities rt,hat o'l~ is ¥Jrtual1y invulnerublc and capable of influencing the outcome ofa large-scale cenflict even if deployed in ones .. lnd twos. The F-U7 , nd B·2 111"(1 l!:ilVCI' bull 'hi: so was the SR-71.

Aurora and the reeunn .. it!lsuJ'l(!(! satell lte progra~tl .U1-C still kept secret, de,spite the end (If the Cold War, because U~(,) intelligence g,per!'l1.()r~ Hkt~ ii, that way, UpUD the heginning of"] 9'9;):, they had one or thetr own in the White HtRI~~: G '(Jr~'o Bush was the only US president to have serv-ed as the direci·(q' or Cell t rul In ~,()lIigl.~1ice-t.he aupreme commander of the CIA, NSA., nndNRO,

Do not hat ~h~] rtmt that thi.ngs will change under the new adrninistra-

An'other weo Jllll1 (k1JiUllCd 1111' n lu:Irw r W(UYlghtitlg J:OO,~ the' Mhlg,dnum smull !r~If'N.lr1iUinf!l,j-tat HrdUst.h: Mr,'i~n(/ aCBM), td be curried in the Hm'-d Afobih~ Launcher (HMJ,) ,>'!h(J,Wi,!' lwrr'. MidN~l'mCln WM' dj~·

tio !;l , The last IHlW DefmHrl"j~~,ic preaident came to office \"'ith a pledge to open up the governmont that had done 8'0 much toi mplement Nixon's .Yli£!l'ct and Illegal commands. -Iimrny Carter pussod tho l"reedMn or Information Ad. He also presided oyer UHl launch of the fi r~t sU_~<llth aircraft, th(:~ higgest b 1 ;1cl~.wodd pt"ajie~l, ~i r~c~ the ~tom bomb, His r:igM-YHlnd man in that venture, Dr, WilHam J, Pel~ty,is hack In WflflhinJ.,1on as deputy Sl~[;rdm"Y of defcof5t'! to the Clinton administration,

lfig!H1r{ :;;Pl!rt.l/l"t·atl_v to atmel; fr.lf:m!t~ tha'l' euroined (I; [irst 1VQ'V~ o/' missiles, but Uku,lirt b« ~"){fim,li(),f U!ia wiihrmt ~.r 1Iiaul'i! ro· Gomwi<;,~tl.1wr~· ,<;ystem to support it. Boei !1g

1'[oWC:1VGl:', bon1 Congm"(';ss anti 'l'JLhe]" parts of the military are pre!1.fling for some cl:l[~ng'{~s in the Intelligenco comrnun i I.;y'. In p~~!'t.iCllll.nt', rcfot"I'I1s ha v{t been proposed that wuuld reduce IJH:~ dominance ~~r tho C:1A and pkiic(J dU1 .N.RO I.m~l;r a new directorate of imag» ing mtelligenee. Thiswonld be responsiblc ~10'1. molly f01' !Hlppoltlng rm~i,fj~liHl foreign intcl ligenee pr'ograms, but :iI80, to a much gl'(!t'l! extent, for provildi]]1g reconnaissance for force,~ in tlilQ field ..

Chapler 1

Both satellites and air-breathers have i.Ti,.pi)l·t~nlt m~~i'ii(loll~ in th postSoviet world, T]le GuUW~ll"was an example: iJr];'i!"Jil.wy that showed the mSU:lS-· lng of Iraqi forces close to the Saudi border, an!(~r the invasion PI" l{:uwail., WUIii nppunmUy critical in. persuading Saudi Arabia's King Fahd to invite eoalitieujorees .l n iLfl h 1 ~ eeun ~ try.

Nude.)r and chemical weapons, ]gng-nmuu missiles, and o'th~r dl~H\,lwy systems could be eritical in f"utun;: I-{~gional conlllcts. Ernburgues and! internatlenal tr()~)Mcs have ~Jer~unc]ed many eountries to launch Uleir own demestlc P,'{)J N,~~ Lo de vclep such weapons, usually in secret .. Detailed overhead imagery, with the highest pcssible resoluuon, pmvldCi;!; hurd evidenee of such 'efforts and can reveal how fur they have progressed ..

In the former Soviet Union, Russia has agreedto ~:lrw~l:;k cuts in Its nuclear w n.a pon 5, as long fiSut lUlow$l, that the other former republics wil] make good on tlW!!' pledges to rsnounce ~h(iUi. Hi gh·,'Csoh':ltia!1 ilIlag ry can show whether a missile silo lHl~ really been de~l!.l·nyt1{!., and whether ull


miSSlh~s in. a cert.aln location have bCCi:lj'Ci1'ioved.

The people who own these intslligenee ta rgnts hu ve enough. sense a!'I.E1 technical capability to map the firlji~ of' reconnaissance satellites, Neither u.ri'. camoul1ugc' and deception expsnsive ur high-tech activities.

The world has cnme to depend on its spies in tho ~ky. S1itdUjtc and aircraft intelligence have dispelled myths u nd reduced fear and tension from the -1' earliest davs, \~;iHmuj. OV!Jrhuad imaging' l'ecOflnai.:C;15<JJnoo, arms contra] W Oti 1 dh~i'!?C been i in ~j O!'lEll h le, In UH! unstable, unpredictable futu're, the idea or auemptJng ~.o manage 01' mediate a {:d~i:5 on the other side 'Of the globe without a.ccurate, real-time .uma.g~ i!H(')mg;em!c is ludiereus, It just eannot be done,

It can be argued that a eombination of satellites and aiJ'l~r.:;il1; is u mere economical (iIJiJ.II'Oa6h to this task, more rg,b'w.~ l~gairl.l;t simple CCl'LLli.L.u'rf]€:asures and accidental failures, than eithe:r aatellites ,or ah('~"aft alone .. in some WfLj/.ij, the question is not "Why Aurora?'; but ';\1i,IllY noli: earlier?

Flyiing Tovv,ar,d Space

There is a strong fa,Dl!ily resembleneeebcut misdeeds, and if you have the details of athou:sand at your finger ends, it Is odd jjfyon can't uneavel the thousand fmd firs:t.,

=-Oonan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet


In 1971, Senator RaJ'loy C{JMwater beeume one' of the ni'st clvilisms to take a ride in the flH·71. 'The SR- iTs creator, Clnrunee L, "Kelly" ,In'hns'on, was th{lnt to brief Gnlldwrlltcr, After the f1ight-act.[ll"d~l"Ig to SR-7'1 pilot Abe. KELl'dol1g~Gold'w~lter €laked -Johnson where the next step would be,

"Mach fi", ,JohnS(ln replied,

Aurora may have been hard to develop, but it certainly would not have been l.ii,~pO~!'iihle, In fad, many people will assert that it could, should, and would have been done a long time ago, were it not for SO'InC shcrt-sighted, panicky decisions in the 1960s.,

In the days of and tha Edsel, milil;aT~Y planners conlidently believed that hypersonic fi.ghtCfS and bombers would he in se'ndccby th,c~nl'ly 1970fl. The firs!; half-century in the developmen L of practical m iHtul"Y aircra.ft could be charted in tan:tlJ.5 cf increaslng speed-but never more so thanin the yem"S ~'ifwr World War IT,

. In the twenty yenr,s after the end of W(wld War I, the' speeds of military aircraft doubled, Although war i~ often considered a spur to hiigh technology;

most military aircraft increased only a HUh,) in thil! war YUill':'>, By 1915, m'lty n handful of j d.s h,fld bI"Qke:11 the 5t)O mph hlll"'ior-hut it was Lhe shu't of U speed

explosion, -

In 1960, ~1ir{:ndt that could exceed 1,500mph wm'C going ll'!l~ squudron service. Aircraft capable of 2;,OOOmph wore under development, and were supposed to b 'in 3 rvic hy H)65: a f'rH.iao]d increase in speed '~n about tw~mty y~£u .~ ..

The nex.l.I!Jf..>lcnl steep W'a.5tO hypersonic speeds. 'I'he definiti(m of "hyper!:iotidc"is not qt.:l'iLl~ as ncr~t ~i:S "~UIHHI. sank," but aercdynamicistsconsider that ~h(~ hypersondc realm starts when I,he uir in front of ~,he VC}hlCJU'S leading edges "stagnates": a band of air' ~~ trapped, unnble hi nOW~!'ound the vuhicle and reaches extrernel y hi~h pnJ15HUre8l and tempe!'H~Ures, As a rule of thumb, the cdliC of the hypersonic regime Hes at a speed of' roughly a milu per sc~om~-:l,flOOmph or .MMh 5.4,

'l''I'lI'ee technology stl'€! ,'I. ms 1 ed toward hypersonic flight, in thr,: 19-10!'; and W50s, One \V,IS the development


Ghupter 2

The a~gl'es'lo~ivt' ,Pu'I".'mill}( ~peed 1 nlh~' IN)slmar (,!r(( is typ;{(rud lJ;lI'trw Dfmgla . ., X<j. n~· ,o;igned irr 1 !~'15.whert the ofll.!d al Itlodd's ail' H1U~('d f'f,l fiord ),'liU gtuoc/ (I t lUiB li~/}h, JIll' X·8 wa.s inr.{f.f!ded for sustained flight.

of an englne that. could propel. a vehlcle at such speeds, if only 1"01" a it)w moments. Another w{tsthc exploration nf h'yP~I'fiot~k h{~t'tldyml'mic~. fclS a means of overeomina a fundamsn t~i] problem of space explritation: bringing ,fl S}),EWe vehicle: nut, of orbit in one piece, A lhin~ was the: development of

eugi.nes fur sust-ained high-Mach niUght.

The first hreakth mujrh carne in the late 19<]:U.s, with the d!.evelopment o fl:n.;ur.:tital rocket engi n es. I Ti Uri C' of history'sextraordinary feats. of tech!\ology, Vlornhm' 'Von. Braun's t{$l'l!'n succeeded-e-m October H142-]n launching an A-4 mli'oi#ilepoW'ol"Dd by a 55;.000 poumj-thi,·~,]~t lliql., rocket engine.(lIte,en times more powerful than un)' other engine even coneelved at that time.

Not only c]ud t.he Germans develop and deploy thcfixst balliatie mus::;i1~', but they originated a different concept: the bybrid ~halJ i:4iduerQdYllamic 0.1'

boost-glide vcll1 cle. .

The starting point [hI' these studlOS was the fhJJL that the A·,4 struck. the gr-mmd a t 2,OOOmph; this W.i1!S far more than necessary 'L(~ evade any contemporary defense« and represented wasted ener!{Y .. Von Braun decided to fit wjn~::; Lo the A--1, So tbat, n would descend 'in iIJ. high-speed! glide rather than a ballistic dive, The range of the weapon would be almost dou-

hled_ .

The winged mUf.!gil~l wn.::; called the A-9, 'rests in Peenernundc's Mach 1.4 shoek tUIUI.d., the only installation tlf i ~ t.yP(J in the world, led ~,o ~hQchtikC' of" small, thin, !'iwepl:hack wings of very lm ..... ".Ii~I,'~1d. ratio, Design work was ~l]$;. pendud in late 1943 dine to problems with. the basic A-4, hut l"e~lJmcd a year l~rt(';ll' because UH~ AlBa", 'W'0t'c' OVC'i"I.\u1- ning the territory from which A-,4,s, could reach their intended t,;;u·gets. A winged test vehicle, the A.4b, attained 2;760mph In early 1945 ..

,'\.h;o on the dra wIng hrnn'd wus u manned aircraft ha sed un the A-9, .vith a tetl'a{:tabk~ landing gear, naps, and airlrr,li, '!':l, It was designad t.u achieve a maxi mu m speed of

2.,J'30tlmph in a boosted climb to 95.,,000 feet,

Even that proposal paled beside t,hu v~siona!"y lJt'ojccL or Eugcn Sanger and Ir~IU! Bradt: a HlO ton rocket bomber with a global ra,ng(l_ nwo,~ld be 1 a Ui"U:! had from u Lwo -milc sl cd t'r~l~k that would accelerate it to Mach 1.5, Released from the track, the bomber 'would climb to f)"flOO feet heforc the rocket ig'nited. The. bomber would then climb steeply to l30,OOOn:lct,con\<'cl,'t· iil,g much of its 90 tons of fuel into pote ~llLi al and ki neti e Ml(~I'gJ,

Next, t~H~' S~;m~cr bomber would dive down into thicker aLI' where ,i ts wings enuld g(lrH'l~'~'lCtl morn li,n" and pun upini.(l a. b~lni::;ti(,';h·"ijl)ctoil:Y, using most of the rest of' its fuel and peaking 175 miles above the earth. It would not have enough eriergy togn into orbit, but that was not Sanger's intention. Instead" as it approached 130,000 feet on .iL" dive back to' earth, II W'(}~lJd pull up 'into UfiOt,hu]' bHI·~i~1;j.;; lcll't;,

Flying Toward SP(J(::2

peaking 115 miles up. The h(!mbtw wouldcontinue aflo\;iild tho WQl'ld with a series of progressively Jower and shorter arcs untll .. its erle'l'gy W.;l~ exhausted ilrldil. eo mmencud .,1 jUlI1!{, slow glide back to base.

Allel: the war, the Sm . .ng{H' pwjed proved highly influenti~)~ In the United States. Dr .. Walter Dornberaer ,. who had b '011 <.1 key member of the- German V-2 rocketteam and. who was familiar wi~h S'~.l,.g(t!·;~ w~wk, went w work ror Bali Ait[~ra.ft; Ccrporation, which had assumed. leadership in the development of special ized h igh'llipe[ld t',esearch ai rera fL [lor[1 hergermanaged to mise considerable interest in sub, orbital boost-glide concepts, deseendants of the A·H, in the 1950s.

At the grin':!!; time, mnre convantional aircraft=-designed for constant speed in level night.-wcl·c pushing toward hiig}..ur performance. From ]944 onward, tile USAF and. NACA (Nation~J Aclvistwy (Jl'Hnmitt-ee 1'01' Aero·

In 1915, eot?n ll1ach 2 l,vas not. the limit, aetee! slrueture flmi f.l iurbo'p!lmp' Fxl Uq.f1[(l n)(;}r,el. ih~ Ben X-2-f)r~lf!n!d in

that ywu'; tml. m)~' fIoWIlM its' design !:>jfl!ed un~'f,l ~'t!n yl~<t"ioI 1(l.(:~1'1'-we~'" aim!~d e~~ 1\.1'adr 3. USA.F'


nanties) useduxparimental aircraft lin t1y out 1;(1 higher speeds. and a.ltittl.dcs before designers put pend] to paper on pntct~c<l!J ain:mftthat wouldoperate in those regimes,

The plan h ad mixed suecess (the X-2, '.,'El.S less of a, tl'aiilMaz<ll' than al'i example of how not to do Mach .3) but the objective was sound". and, from HHi2- 1953, aimj lur considerations drove the USAF, NACA~ 'and the Offh.:~ of NB val RQs.Mrcl1~whi(lh had sponsored the Mach 2 Douglas D-558- 2 Skyrocket -li(] think about a hypersonic research vehicle.

Reseureh. uu» ramip.t:~ and other U1~CmU~i'tHm~(;d jM~Milw:; f('I"SllflfaJlwd /light c!(1'j(:) to Mach ,'1 a priQ1'i:~y in l'1w .1945-196{) era. '1"'hf!: North An~~J' Nmmho .sup~'1'- 8'ofti·r; cruise mi:;llile ltSl?d two Curtiss· Wright ramjet.s In the cr1lis~, but wail' lifted and a 'Cf1lemlfld llY (I U(Jltid.rQ(JJid heW'8M;;. USAF


In 1954,. the Navy program. was m.erged wHh th~' USA.F-NACA~r:rot't.. Late in the ye~rr, NACA issued a 1'13- quirement for an air ... h.t.I.nched manned research vehicle with a maxlmum speed of more than Mach 6 and amaxirnum tdt:lt.ude of Il'HlI'C than f'i.rty miles. North American Aviation Incorpnratcd beat Douglas, Bell, arid! Hepub~ic AV]fltion Corporation, and WinS awarded! the contract [01' the new research vehicle, called the X=15.

The X·l5 was. ')'llJf:g~d, slmph:l airr; r aft thatinelcdcd everything :!.t needed to accotupUsh il:.s mi~.;;;.ion and excluded eVl~rything else, It used fit eOD= 'i,o'ont]onal ejectlon scat. and a. pressure suit rather t.han the Iashicnableeapsule, The seat was p~. tterned on a tractorseat, 'i'his emphasison ~irnplicity was to payoff '1 n the longes c and most sueeessful test. program fn the l~oc,kct series, Three X=His flew mere than 300 missions, exceeding all the speed and altitudegoals set at, the of thepI'(}~ .... am"

Vcry early in the game, some of the prineipals in the X-] S pt'og:1'~'lmincluding North American chief des.lgller Harrison SliJl:TI1S, X=1,5 chh.1f (f11- gi'Oc~r Chal.·leR Fciltz; and chii(;f company test pilot Scott Crossfield-econeelvad a fellow-en j}ffQ·rtil'i, which a modified X-Hi would be mounted on one of the t.){)OstC:H'S from tho Navaho missile.

The Nord) Amcriean XSM=64- NHV~lho was one of the moet :impol'tal'lt programs the USAF ever canceled. 'I'he hugn ramjet-powered Match .'1 I'nisaile broke a Vil!j~ amount M l1I2'W ground. in high-speed propulsion and n~¥'.ig~ti.QfJ. Gila oi'Lhu many new technologies that it needed was a Iiquidrceket booster large enoughto lnfl: it to a speed :!).nd height whore its ram] -til would work.

'l'he Rurm[),iir; xp,' or! wai<t dn,o;igm~d in 1950 CZ:~ ,(I. 3 interceptor. lts Cunls«. Wi'iRltt Jj!Ju'/(!rt)laIH Wr!,~ tm"Ui'ldI1i'·(JiU/'· over" turbo-ramjet, with em. uflerburnill.g (:ul'bvJt·,. tha! both m:<Jvtemtr.!(i tlle (iirel·a:l~

North American formed a ne ...... division to develop therocketmotors f'OI' theth ree-motor, 4.15 ,000 'Pound-~Iu'ri!l;t boaster and named it Rocketdyne. (TIlle Navaho booster engine, the. LR- 105, was. tined in the Atlas misaile and in all it15 subsequent space-launcher a.!:rl'ivutivc,s, Uf! to th(l Pf@!,U~l(\L d"y.

As the inbtial X-Hi, apptoa~:hed its fi!'st fligM., the Navaho had been canceled and several complete boostera were avajlahle. The team ealeulated

ls» €~ sj).r!(!{l w/w.r" trw ramjet w.fmtd i'gni;tI1! bro!Jghl the fighter hOJn~ aile I' its int.m"l,~'i1.plimr run, R '])'lIhlic via H::ich.ud DeMp.i:;;

l;ll';;l~ t,hc X-15 could attain Mach 12 aJter a Navaho launch" and ha ve a 1',:,m_g13 pI' 9,000 In~·i~~: it did nut escape their ::ltte:rrLinn t:h:;l~;it:wa8 C'r:lol1gh to C!'ljt:;t:; tho Soviet Union after a leunch from the United State!'; and land at :1 friendly base. The only modification required to the X-15, [1,5 far as the i.llitial studies were concerned, was some structuralheefmg-up h.1 .... ,·ithshmd the gl'Hal,nr heat ~Cll.Cr.<ltcd by th . fast to. re-entry,

Chapter Two

The {w.()l XF'·lO~~· co.n{ twA cas I':!'.\:" f· J;idfla il~t.!~J lip Mrd rouru] Iwzzta.. i~(!p~~Mic via Richanl D~lei:ll

Aller the Soviet Union PUtt SPI.ttNi~~ 1 into Of'bil.,in October :W57, t:h·e plans grew mere ambitious: the advanced X-] 5 becamean orbital SySL.eITl L~l:lingI;.111·rJe- Navaho boosterfi und a scaled-up, two-person. X-15B. But there were problems, The X-l!J.itsel!r was unproven and behind sehedu ~I.)j mainly due to ddays with the Reac!;ion MoLor::; XLR-99 !'n(}kl~t engine, while the nina-engine booster seemed eemplex and unwieldy,

At the same t'~me, work within Bell, Martin., Boeing, and the USAF , .. r~$poi!'l~ing to tht~ f~() '\I.t'lhi(~l{~ as a simpler S;:!i$U1ITl thiRt would 11(1)1'form in roughly the same way, Starting in UlC mi d- 1950!':, j,h i $ work I'l'ld te a series of NACA and USAF studies j ncl uding lfywnrti:s (hypersonic winged research and development system); WS-1l8P, and Brass BeH, both

designed for reconnaissance missicns: and ROSO, Ier reeket bomber, which was till i nterecntinental bO(l~t.-glide missile.

] n N ovs m bel' 1957; th!'l USAF issued a preliminary requirement for a boost~glide vehicle called Dyna-Boar.indic!:ltii'ig t~hal.i'l;. wu·1I,'ild UM both "'d.ynamic" (orbi ta 1) and "soari ng)O (asrodynamiel prineiples tn stay aloft. The basle diif[(i!nmce between t..hlf1 flys1;c111 and the X-loB was that the propulsion and fueltan lwgc W,~:?i removud frp.rn the orbiting <lind. re-entry vehicle, reduclrgg the mas!": thut had to be PfOtected from high temperatures, 1'hu~,. it could be launched Into sub-orbital nighl, by u n').odWm] intel'C(,)l1It~nnr.1J:,al ballistic missile (TCBM) like 31 Titan,

Dyne-Soar was a research vehicle, as odgirud]y I)~ann\d, but the AiI't Fon;:e left little doubt that itwB!S inter-

,esLed .un il$ muliLary po~e'l'~j.;fil.I)(~th as !l ree 0 n n ai i?i SLH'iI(;(;:'p lu tfQ'I'm~ln d ~l~ iii means of reaching and . holding the "high ground" .oJ' space.

'The v<:l~ue of space-based reeunnaissaneewas dear because a sparegn\l,ftwol;dd b(l nlm(lfo;jo lmpos:;>ih~Q tQ int(~ttt~pt By 1;he l:ilt:e 19503,llowevcf, it was nut clear hewreeonnaisaanee irnagar.}' could be returned. to earth without bringing the entire satellite (Jut of orbit,

A recoverable boost-glide vehkle promised a ,s-o.lutiol1 to sueh prohlems,

Flying Toward Space

A manned, maneuverable spacecraftWQuld a15(),h~ ~'h~~ to J~n(k;l .. ,~'()u$wil.h Soviet saiA> and examjne themf>i)IcvhhHlC() of reeermutsaance devices and n uclear ordnauee: Ol t UUJi.t tume, OJ'· bital weaponshad not boen,

Af't(.!!t' fl contest with a Bell-Martin team, Boeing was selected to build the X-.20 Dyna-Soar i.n Noverobel' 19S9, The vehiele wns n small, d~lta. wingglider, made brg-e]y of "refraetery" metal aUloys thfl.t tolerate high tempera tures and. re-radiate heat. I-Hgl'l.r'l!r;;ke]-(:orlt(.\r'lt steel was tube


'Ii.O,~.""', . ZERQ !"W •.• f.\JH IcOAll'. • • FAYlOJill, •••

'CII~W. " , " " ,

WING .P/fiEA. , , 4'!O!'.Et::V ~A'I110 •• ~~ ~~GiN~~.

• , , .~,'9'55 18.

., .Ql~,$1 $ !,!!i,

• ~1,.~!!Ii" 1,.~ U8.

. ~ ~,.(illOn,·I'1!. '" ~.5


~!--a3' '?"--~

I .. , ~---.j. ~_,_~.

<-- ---

.r.j)nkh[{'19d·~ Gl~.40(). d~'!';igl'J~,'d .(j..~ .(I Mmth 2 .. 5 n~plr!,u!:mf!.nt f(J1' the. U-2 •. W(~S {(J lw pow~t(!(l by PI'l"at ~1}~fhi~!.t(lyr)W!iW4 ~inffj?i.I!'-~ hurn: nJ; J.iquid hydrogen,. The {iI',o;t r2:\"(lm.·

lJ.,f~'~ fJf Ihij hWN bW U(!I'Y /{J!hi Cr.·4DO [("!trw 'uJ.(~rlY t-ompktr! wlw~, aie prvgmm was (w'n~(~l~~-llr~ J'$J!J7. Loekheed


Chapter Two

D't!!;;igncd 1:/1; 1.957-.1960, thegf'{u:4'ul North Amr;wl:(.:'tm XB,70 WaI.'i' rll.mign(J(l iQ adl,icu~ .high </fieiern;y through a rfte.1)' cloee integl'('I-tirm Ull)'I·t;J1)!Ll,~ir.m llIul fl(t.l'{]clyn(lmi.cs_ The W~!fjg(!.-shu.ped ood.y below ~he !J/I:ng

used in most of the structure, ~:'l].oys based on molvbdenum and columhlum would lJ~ used in the edges, ,HId the nose-cap, made by 1..1,\'. was ceramic.

Some design fC'~ttUl'I3S pointed dead)' to t.hl~ fact that Dyna-Soar 'was

('{mtained engines, Wf';(LpUmf bay,. and landing JiI.~CM·. a il(t !4;,I(i:~' i!!.htj.f,~I~d to ,{fl!.'~.r!ralg ~ ,8~1- r.ii-is of sIwek waves that (U~t.lially increased Ufimd 1'·l.!!hwtrd drag. i~(:l,wc:11

a sbort step from an operatinnal vchiclc, Unlike previous re-entry systems, it had no ~lbluUv·() eoaeings, ,~['J It eould he turned around quickly between fligh ts, l'he USA.F;~.1 so made much of the fact that Dyml-8ti~w would he ab]{! to land at any OSi\.F base.

Lmmched from the A -12' at J"luch3, the D- 2l [~,·mpl~~ll.{{l us illIliJ~~ m.ii!,~rml in ar~~ hW.!il

At n rst, the Ai!" li'orce pl til am ad to], with aSfH"i,E':S or sub.orbil,al fl]ghts., using u 'I'itnn n booster. Orbiting flights would n~~dJ merepower, provided by strapping on large solidf'·()·cUwt booators tc IJU! aides of Uw TUm!. ]11 .De:eembEt:r 1961, however.fha US.AJ.l" decided to go straight Irmn aUf-' Iaunehed subson!c and supersonic flight teststotlreflret, unmanned OIl'bital,

Dyna-Roar received a bOOR,t r!'Om the sueecss or the x- Hi,. which had rompedaheadafter uv~:rcoming its engine troubles, 'l'he XLR-99 had flown hi Novl)[nbtw 1960., nnd wW:lin a y{!,;W USAPVi1{)t Bob ¥o"'hitc had t,~k~m the X-15 to 4.,.093mph, or Mach. 6Jl4. 'l'he ,engineers knew thatthe mathernati.c;;!~ predictions that they had used to dc= sign the X=2,() were rcasunably HCCU~ rate in the hypersonic. reg~me,

{hIt nyn~~-So.(),r wM~mdennlncd by QthUi' d~vc1.ijp·~Tlunt~, :By .L962,U~u;~ first reconnaissanee sateLlites-the es-

op.~ro;ling ~'lwe}'opt' {oJ' its rm'fljd;~ngine, tm)kbe--Qo[l

Faste!ft of all 19G()s ail--bn~utlwT'S was t!M~ .15, ()()()'-m rh~.r{ulil'~ D·:tldl'om.(,!, S~t!IJ. pl/relwd (lfl. lh(~ bn.cJr of {.l1i, A- 12. L(I<r.~d~eed

Chapter Two

1'lH:1i.rodmt ·Wl!! 1!f)2!,zI.(~''d to th« TJ- 2n~ Jl1(lrqlwrdt iiJ42i mmJm ~'r#i1H!" i''h its ~l~.f.1\?mely hig"~ fixed e:xp{lTl!~it)n ratio; it is tigMlJ' ot~Ulrrf,z~d fm' ~r:)/i!(!dl1 (mri hlgh- a.!.tUw:le$,. via -Iim {:;'(mdall

tcnsiblj civilian Discoverer and! the mili hu'y sa telli to and !n lssile c bservation system 0( SAMDS)-hud been made to work,

'Ihen, in 1963, the USAF' and Soviet Union signed a treaty limiting the military uses or space, H ouUllwl':d of· fonsively armed space vehicles, rceognized that space sl...ILFvcillance was ]eg31!. and proh i bi tnd f) hysical in t.e rfer en 00 with satelhtes. Most of the DynaSoar's J'l1ilit.ary miasions hurl been eliminated,

The USA..F was under budgetary and polit-lea.! pl'U~i$U.j;'~·. f.i!Ml Dyrm,S(HU' was an €!.xpcnsive project with suddenI.y ~1!l.arg]na] applieal.iona. NASA, on IJiH;1 vinw to the moun, was not ir;lh'::FC5t· ed in taking over the program, and it waseaneeled la'~(;! in '1963.

The X-15 alld Dyna-Soar Jwojl~l;ts had invei'i~;gat~d solutions to some of the chal1C1iMGs. of hy'}E~rs()tiic fligilt, but these rocket-driven vehicles did not address ona ()f the roughest. problems: the- need for mere efficient POWCL

Du ring the 19509, hi rbqiet engi nes moved quicklywW'twd lheir;'spe~tl 11~mits. It was clear that, beyond Mach 3, the ramjet .. vas the most 'logical next ~"l~.ep. Pioneer Roy Marquardt, a Cur· tiss-Wright Corporation team, ami othen" p~'Gchcd t~!nj(;lt.~ fm" vl1l~~h::~o~ that would be i~lstcr than would be possible with eontsmporary turbqiets. In fact, t'alli,ict~ had been adoptad thr three vehicles in the Mach 3 elassbefore HJ50,

The nwsl 15iu.:ces~;t1d of ali Hw US high· sp('(~d ,'p..''II!Urelr aircr.aft ums without a duubt the X·1,1j.. St~~n(y and ml.faMft, the X· los fletu mO·J·e awn :JOt) t1ight$ ~(I lup :;pced,<; I){ Mr:H:h 7.4 (Ilui (,I Intil.\'imrUH JIWl!ult! or 8S1,fJOO tee.t, Rockwell International

Flying Toward Space

NlJl'th .'hrwrh:an d~I,;rj!n~li Ow X·15 with a rleWJ,(!Ifliely <:lln811ru(~~i·tJ{~ m~rodJ'1uW1'ic (, i;AI,l~ a short t(~p~red winM {l-nd separat« ~W{fpt, tal]: 11..<: nw lWmpW~)"~

One was the Nr1 va hc, wah two C u rl:i,S!;i·IN ti g-lll; nlm1jcts; nnotherwae the Boeing- Xl<'-99 Bomarc, which despite Its ciesi.gfl!'J;tio:n wa~ not u IIghlcr but 3 mon$t{~r :::l1)1-f'U::ll-tQ·ajr missile with Marquardt R.l43 ramjets. In both eases, the de~i~~-mr~ used large, scpnrable rocket, boo,~jj[':frs to accelerate the

kJl,m_f,!tl!.d_g~~ {J{ dd!:a H,i ngl;; ir:~{I!u!;;Grl, hou» r.oIle.r, ,NrJrr.h Atnl~l'i~(w J1-rrJposfu;l nmdif{<ld, ddta.wLng,f1d X-His r.oW~ losoer dr(tg .(Ind Idgh~t ~~'(JbaUy. R~~ckw'lll,

vehicles to almost Mach 2 befere Light. :ing the ramjeLs~ tb is nW~1~1t that I;hc ramjets never operated far outside t:hcir most efficien.t speed regime and gave. the missiles a very respeetable I'alige,

The thira l·.Iifi'ilct jJl'!ljGct was the Republic XF-103, ordered "Into. develop-


Chapter Two

.AdrNl:IH~Im' X·15 studie« ,rr:ml'!1!.U!!(l inJQ Nw mid·.1960s, .(~t~lminat"ing in this :,;t.r(J.Uhec/ Cdn!iY1fj. (W fh,t rrmMer tium OJr: Imfd(~ X-15:J

1'1'1Cl'1 tin U1Jj, L ']'hi~ was Vi manned intcrceptor. de5~g:rH'it1 .~ n an tieipatlon thai; the Union would eventuallv bu i 1 d H l.~ll·g~ I'l~~ ~ or su Ijl:!'i·S.()tl~·c bombers, As a m:)nncd aircraft, it needed power OV[!'l" a large]:' night envelope than th.€ missiles, ~uit was d'esigned with a unique powerplant that

wilh tl' 7i.,'i··~hi·gl·'(!C ctr.Ufl: uJiJll1 [HId Up. mounted {in.'<'. A la.l-,;el· roche; f:.ngiJll:'-Po.~· ~ihly R(jt~kr!.ul.ww's LH-H)t5-i.~ in.c;f.~lUrYl.

eombmed an alterbu minI,': turbej et (a Wl'ight ,J67), developed fro HI, the British Bristol Aeroplane Company's Olympueaud a CIJI'~]l:is-W]'lghl. X'1it.]55 ramjet, using 'I.;hu same inlet and exhaust system. On pure rernjct power, the XF'·103 wa!'l f~xptict(Jd~(,i!lttDli~~ no less than Mach ~-L 7,01" 2,450mph.

Flying Toward Space

'1'lw delta X·.15 [IJrJuld ha!J!~ had a C(lfI.t.I':!T· tiff!: dro[J tanh to iliwea.,",c motor burn time., epeed, and I1lW!~d(! .. Although it W{)II.l<l lit rrtflhYJlly di{frtn;tH in :shape {torn tlw X.15,

'rhe XF-103'.o:; rudieal turbo-rnmjat engiine was i,'TQund·tested in 1956, but the projiecct wag caaceled the ro~]owing vear in favor of the more conventional NorUl American F-l0S' Rapier, a Mach 3 '~urbojct design, 'l"h~ Navaho was canceled around! the same time, and CUI'H:-;s-Wright soon .. vithdrew from tho t~lmjQt business.

Roy Marquardt's company kept its j:r)0U~ 01'1 what the eomnanv's leader t;};uuf,.tiht would be the engine of the future. 'l'h e Marquardt plant at Van Nuyr.:., CIli.:l.:ifi:wnirn.., e:(,p[l,mled to hOW;lC ~l unique range of high-Mach test chambers. Marquarde'a engines were classlfied by their diameter: t.he 28im;:h &J4:1 1'01' the Boman: was followed in tests by a 3,6 i1"l1;11 engine, and f\ 4f! inchramjet was also planned. .. S~I'H:e thrust ..... 'as proportional to the airflow, ;1. nd hence tu thc square of the eli arneter, the 48 inch. ramjet had three

Narth Anwri.(!(ln plamwd ttl 1i~!~ au'! lhiu) s-is «trthuTW a~ a bcmiB fOf' the new ail" em/i. RockweU

tlm~fo! th~ p()ow~r or the; 28 inch (In gino,

'The Marquardt engines were testflown between 1951 and 1959 on si.x~y. one Lockl.1lEed X~7 unmanned Lt~"'.il, vehides. The highly successful X-7 program included onetHght. that reached a maximum Mach number of 4.,:n.

"Th(~McDonncll Aircraft Corpora~~()n, meanwhile, wasworking with the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) of J,ohn::l Hopkins Urii.vorsHy {In ramjetpowered surface-to-air missiles. APL was largely funded by the Navy, and had played a key role in developing the Terrier, Tartar;. arid Ta los misslles. In the late WoOs, anticipating that Navy ships would he threatened by Soviet supersouie bombers armed with stand-o·ff miHsilus. APLalld M.,(:· Donnell Douglas developed a monster ramjet-powered SAM called Typhon. Some' Typhon j;c.~t vehicles reached Mach 5-the problem was that they

Chapter Two

went out so far <mil so fast that no radar eould truck and C[ml::i'o~ UH~m.

It was the Lockheed X.-7, however, that ]ed directly to the faf'i~.ed and high e::>t.fl,ying ain::raft ever used oper[It]onall_y, By H)90, that aircraft W"i,S :litiU hlghly djlh\~il1~d, altno~~ twenty years after its last attempted operation,

0111 May 1, 1960" Francis G,. Pow(!'I'i.\1' U-l] s.~~YJ'll~ul{! was shot dnwn over Sverdlovsk in the Soviet Union,endiing ~l]m.ost foul' yeHI"S of clandestine overflights in an international seandal. Pres.ident Dwight .Ei sen hower, rn!!'ll~d by his advisors, l,rltld to mainLain that the U-2 had drifted Qn' course during an upper-atmosphere res,earch

North An'rel''[('l;lll- prUIJfJ:>cd ia lnunl.:h Ott' mudififi!d X· U; frlm~ lh~ br:u:k of thr. XR - 70; [lS Luckh{!{!d {{lUnd wah the A-1.2! D-21 Hf)I·lj.bir~u,t"imrt th4f, airfZf'w (dJOv~ t1 d~lIlJ U_;iltg is uniform and ,&~'ni.#ltct!en at ldach

,1 and {;'fJl'Uilld!}~~ to,(,_ CiNII'f sC]J£1'}"(1timL (The I/, oJ ()r·i{)u.~ ,A -1.2 tt» '2' r;uUi8ion uxr.s due 1.0 difft'l'ent [acinre . .) Ln.EUl.cil-ed at '70 GOO rr~~~J ~lI"ul Mw;.h ,1, OJ!' X·lS we-HIM have atir:d.ned J',oiad~ 8. Roclnvell

Flying Toward Speee

I n tt~d' ·~f'~r o{Ap.oNo, Rmd:; .ft.~I' hlgh·~PiJ~!d r1!.s(J.().reh w()sdd sapporl only .:.r more mod· ,%,t enhr~I~('I,w:tl!:ntor th« 'J!=l!3, I.vith a small {w3r.lrt,gl" $trettJh, 1?4tjJ.rn.(ll: fud (.(mklil,. and r:m ahl(f.til'Je (!ocling to wi.lhstand hiMhw-

flig\ht, hut Powers' own confession and the espionage kit on his ab~(:I'~)Jt gave him away. Eisenhewor fdt thut n~ hud no choice hut to hom manned reconna isaa nee fHgh ts over the So ... iet, Union,

'['he .~ oophol e in th.o OV~l' W!ilt~ fJ,Qt m~ntioDed-was designed to protect the new reconnalsaanee satcllltes, BuL the hau did rerneve tim primary mission of the A-12 Oxcart, which Lockheed and the Gl!!nlr;'l,l I~l~,~~I~i.g()n~!(t Agmwy wore devA]oping to replace the Ud2.

'1'0 comply with the ban on urannedoverrllghts, Lockheed pl'(l· posed to add a second stage to the A-

t~.?1'JPi\!I\q~1.IN','i:, fJ!!d!~!' ~~w t4il ri'l. (/.. ~m(r.ll.;J',!:· p8rim:ental f!,croR~if!:.t .r.ngin~, fuetl~d by liquid hJ1dmge:n ectr.1'ied hl the 'IHmhYf.l taii. Rockwr:~~

12:. an unmanned reconnaissance volT]' (,;10 usir_g somu of tho <l8md.ynamic aI.1Lc] materials tCl,';h!~o]ogy developed for the A-12, but with an even hjgher speed and ph enom t~ nal fa nge, Am~! n d 1962, Lockheed was unthurized to proceed with. this system under tile cQ(]ename 'A'~gbo~fd, wil,h th~ Dllmpl'lny de8;ignn·

tion ])·21. .

The ])·21 was to- be launched from the back of the A·12, It was an expend • .ahle, sin_g]e-nl]($sl()n vehicle, and it WHi" completely automatic f1'OI"l1 tk~ moment it was launched. Its blendeddd~8. bl)dy COUJld aeecmmcdate a { .... amU]',l andaneiectable film pod, Th.'ll engine was a Marquardt .RJ-;13-MA-ll,

EIH~mw{lg (l by ~hf! lIu(;m~.'1 (!If'thl' }{. J5. l/t'il anri Ro(~ing designed the X-2'O .lJJ'I1(b~:j'rwl', {l Smt1U, Il:ftJM},{!·pi!.r.~(. 1'~"U'~I.W· able spaeeplan« til.(tl could land on a ('(inUCI'I tiona; ,·unway. Noh' til at; th» ~h(l!'p

This' photo shmu» .Dyna-Stmr wUhot1:t th« jllUisrmabh:. ~lridd thai lj'l'nfr~('((~d the wi.nd· f'o/ti,dd.' dwiltg hllUlCh a.mi "f""I!:-eni1Y, Boeing


it:mlir'lg 'j.I,iUi!!; uf Jll!'! X·.15 lr(f!.!'~ gi.L'rlll. 1¥f.IJ' to ,(l hluff-edged delta, better obie to reei si Ow (.~mfMrt:rJ;nrt"!,~ '(H1(/ jJ!'eSS1lre~ caused by kYP'f"I3Qnic flow slagn(LUVil_ 'Boeing

actually removed from a surplus Bemarc rn issilc.the fuel was the same ,IP-7 that was used on the A·12 itself.

In epcratlonal W':i>C, the A·12, would launch the D·2~ at almost Maeh :~, around 80,000 feet. The D·2I would necelerute and climb to 1'h~~H' Mach 1 and 100,000 fe·el, as fuel burned ofr, US].ilg .iLS inl~tt~ul navigation systemto :fh]1ow <1 pre-programmed t,ruc'k to the target, where the camera would opel" ~~W !lutflin;l'tti{~nny.

The f)·21vo,;OllIld exithostile airi5!)<J.CO, fly to :'.I. predetermined point overi ntern ati,~ In,~ 1 waters, and gl idt~ !A) a lower speed and altitude where the

film pod could be, s,iifely !dect..ed. AIl UX" P lC~f:i;hte d:H;l,rgo:lS would blow the top-saeret aircraft into tiny, unreeognizable I.ragln.f!fl ts, AU U~ ga,~ wOldd be loft WOl! 1 d be the;:. film pod, descending by para" chute and transmirring its location with So beaenn. A ho m:ing de v j ee would guirlie a G·n9 or G·TI.30 transport to the retrieval .zone, where it would suag tI.'H~ parachute lines with a trapeze and ha ul th.e film pod M. board.

ThemC:H.I, llxl,nlol'dlnnry fc;)Hhn'C of the D·21, however, was Itsrange. This tigUl'e. was of'I'icia.u.y elassified until very recently. it, was a shock to observcrjs when, at a 1987 me etdng , Skl,Ulk Work~ (;hi~f B~n Hich d 1~~los~(~ that the D..:21 had an onduF:)nco ofno lC8~ than foul' hOUTS at Mach 3.8 (2,520mph), translatmg into a total range -oj' lO.,O()O miles----e(Jual 1:0 that of ,} 13·52. Thnt t,hi~ was po.!l,sible, even with a small, :fVi8t vehicle, was an ill U.minuting ]esson in the value o r hig.l sJleed: j,lle D"2] showed, fi)l" thos.(i who ,,jere cleared to know about it, that speed does not necessarily mean inem· dency"

The D·21 WU8 an dab-orate system that did" not (r~lih) wo~'k, .Alr·laui.ichi.~l.g an eight-ton vehicle at Mach B could never 'be reganlcd as free from risk. In 1'>'luy :l9SB, 011 the sixth launch fJ. ttempt, a D-2·Jl. suffered a control failur<lI!l.1'!c! collided with the 8,·12 .f',h~p .. Both A.-.L2 crew members ejec.wd, but the observer was drowned"

The euperscnic al r launch W:'l.S decreed unacceptable for operational use, and. the D-21 Pl'O(l:l'am. stopped while a new, rocket-boosted version was developed, to be launched from a B·,52R In tbc~~~tl:y u:mJs~ tWQ 13·5211s were modified to launch the D-2;]B and wen} based a~ong,f;ido the SR"l1 Bla~~lkb]nh at Beale Air Force Base, California,

Flying Touard Space

.1U!wugh Dynm,Som" W(IS G-an..c('ied in .1!J('JH, sl~!·~a,,/r tr!chnofiwy WU<:i {~ppli~d to unm(Mtned hJ'lN?NJOtdc glidA3 udddeli (llGV!'J) lr,Mur:duKi by At.lm; or Tium OOOSWI'(j {Qr ft~~' drq.1' ,at.dke (~I~d other lid$8i()r~$" Firsl t~!;ll> rlrl ~n thin I.w.r!ly W60s, .NGV~ 1'~~':(l.it1i~d t'j,!rlewE1d auensio« in the 1980.,; (1$ a. mtan" of (!,~~H~~11g d(!t{!r.~"wr; q,nd (~#a¢ldng m(!!!~l~1 trw· gets., Loral

Severa~ operational recnnnasssa-nee !lights were attempted over Chinaand the SOTI(;)t Uuion.but 110ne WDlS, successful: the D- 2-15 t1~isap peared, 01' mif>s~d their L.u.rg{lLs, or the filrn-rccovery system failed. After President Richard Nix-on agreed to cease overmghts of Cllinain 1972, the was terminated,

':A'h(;': D·21 achieved its {(!{b"::iQrd:l· nary per.for:rnance using relatively cnnva[]tion~;ll fi..1el and surplus engmcs. Rescan:hcil;'s ktt()w th~lt much mute was achievable, In the early 19605, the strands (j,f ]:OlmJ~t, boo,st..·.g~ Ide, and ro(:kei~ research WCI."\j h:ri~fly pulled to" gctherin a visionary study for a 50- called Ael~()Spa.oeplrane: avehiels thfl.1.. could take off and land from a normal runway and either ascend into Ol'bit 01' cruise in the high hypersonic regj me. It would therelhre combhl{e the near-


Chapter liuo

unlimited enduraneo of the satellite with the air<;ruft;'s ability to In8tl()UV"T' and change course, It used radical new e n~n(ls'''':J101 ~h I\! r ru m.iets norrccketa but an am:)lg;:i.m of both-and wfI\l]d have boon fueled with liquid hydrogen, something tb l j, Lockh(.)oa's CL·1.00 had. provenpossib lc,

Tho challenges th at, l.he Aero:;'P;;I;£;c;jJlane posed inspired a l,fre<lt deal of research. a..lel study, which in tllrn advaneed tho jn~,On:iyp{)rsOlli·c (]esigt1 .. But it relied on engine concepts that had! not even been P"'(I\'!:)d in a labora-

tory, and it prnb.ably could not have been built wi th tbu materials or the (by-

Above all, ~h{~ro WUI:; no money to even stert I.hlJ project. Planners who IlIad dreamed of fleets of Mach :3 fightCj'!;. and bombers n~Vcb' saw U'i13iJ' visions realized .. The only Mach ;3 air.c:['al~, I.e) enter service were, the Lockheed! Bluckbirds and the MiO-25 interceptors that were bui] t to ca teh them. 'rhe USAF' never U'\'{l'i'i foeldcd ~. tl'~II'y supersonic strategic bomberafter the B·SS; the B-1 was det':igned for Much

Loddrr!(fd'~ dar.sified Hif"·lr1,(aH;h~d HOV pl·ojed from. the 11i.I:d-l~)SU8 resembled thi«


artist'« frnJ'u'r.~Fdon .lHvdu 'cd by G'rJIH11'.rd O:yrw.mi(;s. GD

2, but is GIlly marginally supersonic in its service form,

Mach 2_5 turned out to be a p] ateau for fi.J,dl~or spends, lmd~he most successful fig-Mer of' the 19705 find 19808, the F'.16, COlli d ba rely tuuch Mach ~" Evi.:i'i tho IH)W F·22 probably has a lower maximum Mach number than the aging' lr"·4.

Therewere ,)11 s{rl'tR or I·t'}ft:iml~ for this reversal. One was money, The airCi'tift. of eaeh gcrllcr~tt~on WCI'(.i not only much. faster than their predecessors, 'lht1y Wf!]'le ;;l~SO bigg'(~~' and more expcnsive, The F·4 fighter ofthe lata ]950~ was {lJE heavy as a B-17 Fortress; and ~hl Yf'· ~-~ WH~ !l1()!"U than twice the 817;f.j 'uf an F-4. The cost went up even faster.

Anothe'l" reason, though, was that many rH~ople-in(:hHJjng President .lohn Kennedy's secretary of defense, Robert McNamara, and his team of an:'$l.s-bel:l€~v,ed U~iit raS!A~r, higher-

The FDL-5 was dcsilFICd to be ai~·· larmdred [ron: a lJ-5!1 Fuel {Ol" initio! rrc(/dr:r,{r fi,o'~ [{"(!-l> t,o be (:w-ril:'d r n ~ [IJQ {'oll-IorIIWl tanh!:> forming {~ V-8hapea collar (u'rlluui th« j!rdlidr~. I SAF via D®\dd Sel" gan

Flying Toward Space

Tn tht1 lal;IlW6(Js, Loch/wild nne! .Iht! U,SA .. F Flight Dj'fI(w~ks r.{ibor-alory built tr fuU· seaie I1Nwkup ol CL J.iypeF1Wrri{~ rl!~t!m'1:h uil'r;r.rJf~ r,t~illg Utr.. ,/i'.l)l,·5 "ha,Pe, (waring ru,t 1t.ncal1n;y resembiance to th« uehlele .~eert ~lU"i" tlw North Se« in Aug~~;<Ir. ,WR9. This wnfi.l!Mratiarl' used. .a stabili~(1Urm teenm:qut.! (;uU(!'(i '·~".mNpf'f!~!;';m~ Rht~r;ng" lo df.~· j}efl!J.!l with '-he J'urjfl'! win#-tip fin» of the: x;lO wui uther' ail'croN. II; Cl,lSI] Il!lli.ufY!li /Upau: wings I.() reduce ifl3 landi'TII/ ·!jfJe~1 u/ui ft'tmcl{Jbli~ fairings ill /h:mJ oj' U!.e wind-

lilriehL· SAY V'i~l'na\l'id Sele.gan .

!lying aircraft simply wouJd be outpMed by r.'lS~e'l', better surfaec-to-atr n~i~fi,il(l~. A~ least, th,~,t wasv .. hat their computer analyses seemed to show. E.:ltl,'ifldenco JI.I'oved Uttnn \.-\']·ung, huwever: JJ118t)i1u systems have, in many ways, yet to fum] the confident predictio ns of th I" to 1950s and early 19(:;Os. But ihe'ir d,ecis]ons were law at the time,

Then, aeronautical research tonk a blow from ann~her quarter. In April



This C()ilrU1il:!)/"i ot PDL h)'J}(If'SOIdr: stud» sluipes includeR l!u~ FDL-5 (fj'Dnt. row '-em, tlw FDL-8. rm/>d;i.w UrfJ X,·.UB (b'u~k I'mv le/t) , ami a eoupte of boosr-glid« vehicles (('t!.nltu· fhm~ and hack. l"url'. ~t!tJml(.ll"rJm rilJht). 11M3 spatulcHwS.r.d ~htrp~~ (bark i'm.v right) is aJl. ,,'\.l!I'OSpcu:p.]liww euacep«; as' .i1l

19til, a SO\,ii~-~I. rucket shot Yuri Gagatin's Vostok capsule inko orbit. WiU'l1f1 months, a monster was eenceived that, once gn)wn to full size, ate almost the enl.iI'c budget of the X-l 5's Sp()nH!Lw-UH~ Natieual Adv·i.Aory C(Jm·mittee for Aerenainies, renamed the Nnticnal A~r(m.tmUm; ami Space Administration .. NASA went to the muon; and high-speed night rese .. u·ch was-left with the tabla sernpa

Between rt.h em. the change i rI IT! 11 itary prluritlee find the expansion of ~P<U ... "lJ research eliminated any chance of building an[)~;hcl" new aircraft for


thl ;'(I.~e [1{ t1w lCltCllt; X·.,'?O f!finfigUI'.(iUQIl, thf!:widr? n..0$(::' prmliri(w better cwnJu'es8ion {()·r thrJ ~mr1~:,.·rr.I~:!i.~/;'ag~ rClm.r~11-!l:;. Eight OMt a,fthe [ourteen. shapes crm'p.spond c;1)(wt.iy ~r) eh~? North Sea siUhting r)(lu/crM.l I1JSfJ. USA]<' via David Sel~gi:lin

high-SIHHl:d I1lght ressareh .. Without nighl;-icstvehicles, the high-speed regime Wf15 unl'lxp'!m"(:ll tcn'itm.'Y; a land where on1y models, studies, and theoretical research could go_

F01'l:unrrtclv, some of the Pl\[)iJj"ll~I¥!S that escaped the axe generated very useful new duLu. In pnrticular, the USAF FH ght Dyn ami C5 La berate ry (FIlL) devised newand more efficient j!.hap~s Ib!" hypersonic vehicles. It had been known that conventional shapes, with a separate 01' slightly blended w'inf,ii and body, wereadequate aerndynamically but did not work well fn)ID a

thermal standputnt: UW,V 8111f'feI'ed from high loealised heaUng leads, ~JIHJ the wings were VJ{) hot to hold n.H~],

In the late 1950s, NA:fu\ aerndynamieists devised radical shapeswith no, wung,'$ at ajl. These ~Ufting bodies" w'ere;! [jho~,t u~1.d l'ounde~~, and u~ed combrnations of flat anti. curved surfaces to gener'f.I.Le lin, and eontrul the distributien of aeredynamiu heat, it appeared that they would perform e;1: fcdlV~ly tit V~lY high :i'ip~(:l:d,~,; thoqmlFO'

Plying Toward Space

tlon \'I,!'a~ whether thoy would behave weB enough .It ]QW spGedls to I,mill.h~e W land on a runwav,

In wem, Nm~throp (;orporntion delivered a 1,200 pound piloted wooden lifting body, the 1v!12~Fl, ~o NASA. It WIlR. a glider, but; it wn!J fonQw{.~di by th() rocket-powered, an-metal M.2-Y2: and the HL.IO" with B:l.ln.ib.r sy8~~[ns but :) different aerndynamic shape; the M2· F'l and!M2-F2 \ .... ere :flat un top, while L he m, .1 U w~~s' flu tmldl;r~~ri:~th_

NASA rP.$1;'(ll',v.ile'rs, wUh (~n. institutiorwJ bias lm1J(Ird.s "bhm,t body" :'1hClpe~' l'vr rer.ntry 1.Whl;, pn;mwi.e.d rOl,wd"fl'V1Ued fif~il1g.b(jd.'!s}'t.alW!'~ lik~ atl~ J\!f(ll'hn-MClridb~




X·.24A., TJu ww-,~p~¢d h(1,t~(m.r!l'f (IU,{rUth~~' 4 U~i?~,~ sJur.P{!'~ 1J().dea {tmn irll(.~"I!~aflg to hr:u~u rctrnu ... UflAF


ChCtpler T'w(l

Thi! 2(·211C ,~tlU'1ff'l-f ~mlbl"t.·l1."i;'(l (! 1',(i I~ac: of" /1>1"), latians, including this oir-launched, un· manntu] ~Ii!hid(! NI!'I"i,(1(t [l:r' [VASA r ' .... :l'p. 12C. (At fhat time, NASA Wen:; 1i(:!"r~v freen em.

1\. wil1d·t.1./.17.1l,el model of'tlw X-24C, prop()fij~"!d rl'Y t.h~ Ji'DL ~Vld NASA fn H),?!). (Ph'y.~ieany, t.!di> (liraa{f, wmdd hnue had lwM ing in. t,amm.oII wUh UU! .X:'24A amI. ]('. 24B.) Note, agni», th« 15-dep!'('oI:' deit« shape. USAF via David Selegan


WJ~il1g ~mb'~IJ~''(ll~J UllmCliirwd 1"t!S 'uN..'h air(!l'(,1.{I..) Nan!! of them. wt:m {lmded, (~{ least 1)1 f.ltt! td~Ue worid. Lockheed

The results of l;hesc tests were mixed .. Tho M2·] 2 may be best known for its rule in the television ~(~ries The Six Minion Dollar k:fal1, which feae!!n'ccl thellroootYfw'S M~iY 1'9137 crash in its Op,tHling' credits. 'fhe aircraft erashed due to roll oscillauons, ny the time NASA's now-deminunt astronaut lobby chose i ts next megeprqject=-a rl1U j,mblc SpH ee V()h.ic.~~-th(~ neeussu ry ncrodynarnic technology to make it work well did not exist. The shuttle ended up with a rather basic !l!'lfndynamic shape that combined low risk

wi thuninspiring performance,

The NASA-designed lifting-body shapes were ~hort and blunt because ~hcy were designed as controlled, l'LU1· way-recovered re-en t.1"Y veh J c:l es, Ultimate aerodynam ic efficiency was not plll"Li.culnrly irnpo ... tant since they ,'\!e,"e not designed to make long atmospherie glides or maneuvere, except to position themselves fill" Ianding, and trnnsonic drag was not important because the vehicle would be loltsd Lhl"ough the transonic zone in a zern·liJt; state, on a t(l,c:keL On the other hand, weight was impertant becauseit determined how much payload! eou Id be laun ell ed \",jl,h a givu'l booster,

The Air FUI"ce:, in a series 'or tests under the ASHET and PRIME pro" grams, demonstrated !.l'ITIi.IU 'li'ilm~Uli'Ji;)d Ii filing- body re-entry vehicles with blunt-body shapes. However, the service also supported a mid·1960~ MeDonnell Ailn.:raft program to demonstrato a hypersonic vehicle <:~pabh~ nf long-range, high-speed flight Hi.r( the atmosphere, Thls was the Boost Glide fu!!Se"H\t~h V~h]de (BGR.v) ,

The BGRV was a slendeNle!bl. shaped v~h:i!;:l~ launched lJY un At1all booster. BI:,\:H~i~(l it flew in the atmosphere, it could be ma ae LIvered throughout Us Ilight and t.'iiuid bi,) P'I'O' gramed tn hit a target from any direetion: becnuse it. new much lower than 11 satellite or Of.l balllstlc TCBM WUI" head, a wrmhl he m~l~;h closer tcirnpru!1, when j I, was t1~t~~tcd, On~ one test, a BGKV was released from an Atlas over theIHll'1.hwe~~ern United States and wa::i deliberately splashed into the ocean off Japan. "H' .. se hadn't done U'l~t It w~lI,.Ild tWV{) earrted on past Augh'\~lia;" an engineer recalls.

.I.;h(:! FHght Dynamics Laboratory's later ,shapes~l?DL·fj, FDr -6, FDL.7, and! FDL-S-wei'e designed with sus-

.Flying Toward Space

tainedhypersonic flight, both gliding and PU"\I~l'cd, in mind tls wt. ll as re- 8ntlj". Even 3& lligh hyper.s,onit speeds, they were capablo or lift-to-drag ratios as high as :3::t They differed i 11 Lhp.~ r tin and tail arrangements, but in plan vif1w, th~y W{l'I'Q all quite similar: l'bey wer'e plain seventy-five-degree triangles.

. In late 1$'.1,68, the USAF decided to modify a surplus blunt-body vehicle, at Mm't:in SV·5J', into a rocket-powered aircraft with the FDL-S shape. Extra panels and nn~ were built on to the aircraft, which W~'i!S redeaignated th~, X-Z4B and made its first night jn August 1973. 11'1 "I thirty-six-night. program endingin No v ember 1975, the x- 24B attained a maxi mUIlJ spc(ld of MlIlch LTB, bull more 'iTnpm'tuntly, demonstrated a high dlegree' of controllability despite its radical shape and dramatic leading-edge sweep tingle .. It was the on]y Iifting-bndy aircraft to lund on uconventioual runway, ~:athfl!I' thanthe EdwardE. lake bed.

Further hY[lI.:1r.[:'lOlrit research, howi'!'V,CH', required u new vehicle. Plans fcw such an aircraft took shape as the X- 241\ i'l igh L·i.Ul~ (H'ogra Ttl drew to n dose; alfJu]ugln it was a new aircraft" NASA and the UElA!" assigned it the designation. X·24,C .. The X-24C used a modified FDT .. .s shape. Powered byeithur a Thickol XUl-£Hl 01' 3i Roelkel.· dyne LN.-1U5, it was La he about us f .. ~t as. the X-1A, with a: top speed of Mach 'f.4 (6,630nwh), and wtJukl have b~~n abont eq:ual inweight (56,000 pounds} to the stretched, drop-tank-eqsripped X·15A-2. J.,·ikc t.lnu X··~ 5 and X·2 .. 1B, it was to he air-launched from NASA's NB·52Jl,

The X-24e w .. is not designed primarily to extend the frontiers (lr~ab· solute or sustalned SP~"(J. Rl1t:.hCl', i:L WaJS designed as a f1jring testbed for

Chapter Two

Th« FDL alS(f im)I;:.~ti;g(1.(~~d II i!vfj'UWW;Co!'ril~;U Rf!-enlry Research. Vf!hic,lA1 (MRRV) t:o (:!',l:ploro fiil/lit r(!utn~ 'Ii' {l'fm't llifm~h ,Ii to tJr£)U. TM,'j !lfJ'fsi:ol1, wit.h joldiJlg outer wings and

ramjet ~w ser'<:i!!1f1j(d; engines, which 'were j,(J btl mounted under the t'fHU' ell the body, The. goal was 1 . .0 I,e~t the scramjets duting about forty seconds of high-speed level fligh t,

In 1975, NASA planned to eontinue X·24.C ,shtdie,1'! until 1H78, ~t!]cct a scramjet and aireraft design 'in that year, fwd fly the first of two X·24Cs In ]'9~l. The two aircraft would carry out a :1100 sortie nigl·lt·j,e:::;t program over tan 'yIllUl"H, ntl'~shin,r; ]1fi 1991.,

Some companies proposed .':1.1 tf:1!'lU;I· five approaches tn I .. he X·24C requirement. Lockheed's X·'24C·L301 study envisaged a much smaller vehicle, car-

tail, would ha-l'J'j] DlGtm l,rw;rdu .. 'rl i'r~[) [Ji~a by the. ShttUl!!!_ Su?aUr:r 1,J·(:!r.:::it:ms t:Duld lrCW{i brwn lawu-:lwrl flY (I TU(UJ tJX/ booster. USM via David Se]egan

~;k~d on the back of" one of NASA]~ YF'. 1,2, Blackbirds andlaunched mu!~hi) D-21. 'The Lockheed vehicle would have; been much smaller than the B·52 launched X.-24C; however, the YP·12. could have carr'ied a 25,.000 pound ~)~y]('iad te Mud} 3.2, and the much h.ig'h er bunch spcad and altitude would compensate fot the vehicle's smaller size.

But i1~ was not to happen-cat least apr~t~~'t1'llifly. The X-24 C. wfl::;rl~lh rred l-iJ,. 'for a while, as the National Hypersonic li'lighi. Research Ftwmty (NHFRJFJ, but NASA andthe USAF never found money to build. prototype's ..

Fl.ying Toward Space

Boeing'» Ai.r- Luu.n..cJwd Sortie Vehide (AL.5'V) rlfI.~jgn ~tl.l.r,l)' W·ttsii rol.'·ouL'l'abltJ f)I'., biting oehiele C().,ried on a: modified 747.

T1w Spo..t~r!: ShftWe engim; in lhe H7'~ mil. (IUliWiHi it fl) rohti'!~~ th« orbiter in ~I flU-d·· dimb.

Chapter Two

Thi,o; R!iCkwdl Cil'thit'~ ro.lir~t!ljt fl'~ii~ 1980 is /..)'piccll of idea.s foi' a .tranf!;(1tmm;plw.ri~ !'.Iehide (I 'A V). wil:h a IWI'.I1W l (jpI?ra.lh.lg h>.{fl1nl! (~x{eTI.ding {mm file outer edge~ of

Historian Heme Francillon, howeyer, in ~l definitiva ~1,,~r\'~'y (If Lcekhecd aircraft published in UJ82; reported Lh,"Itl Lnckheed had already flown an axper+mental aircratt capable' of sustained flight at Mach 6. Thi:;; 'could have heufl .* bluck-world cxt.l'upolrrU,on of tJlI:.~ ~;llr .. launched X-24.C-L301 project

The next public !'(~I(~!'(l[;,ce$ to hypel'!'Hl!1 be a ircraft appcnll'cd i i) H1S2. when Boeing released- details of an Air

the (l,lmw1pll!!J',j! £nt'o .~'})M.'·r!. A 1J(~ritHy ,nf'I./,I'J" cf)fwentional engines were connidered f()r TAI/:,:, r lWJ u di n ~ h y b rid ~ It rbo-ro« kr! t s.

Roclk,~re 11 .,

J .... ;'iml(;l!H.~d Scr tie Vehicle (ALSV) which i.t was studying undt~r 'l US Air" Force contract The ALSV orbi tcr W.~8 an FDL-8 shaped boost-glide vehicle, abuut the sizo of an .F :16 m' DynaSoar, weighing 22,000 pounds without. fuel. Llke Dyrm,Sour, it could be flo .. ~'n wi t.h orwithout a pilot, and it was intended to support a v31'iely ormiHtary 111 issinns, nl though i·e{!Oflnl~1i.~:;.u.i!lCC was the most obvious example.

A later m~rsfon of the Bor;kl.vell TAY study) ~(JUh (!: lIiiigttt liwal ami II (.lltl~j'(!;tJ p."UPltI· sian s;}'srem, Rndrwell


AI,~n frmn th« FlGr.Jw'!ell pr'lt/ed Gf{I:{'P. uia» ~his Shu.I;~le- W~e. r,\~hidf! lau ndu.'.(/: /rV1nr, {j, 747, Unlike the Boeim; stud;,!', the 741 does not hau'e 11, boos~t'!' enR,im_~ a,lul it L~ ~qaipp~d with a V-t(~a to ~h:Uf tIn' wci;lw of

The Al, .. SY was not designed to carry a large paylQud, Itt> •• dvant<:~g:cs W~I~ that ]1; would b~ nl{b.h~; n~:dhle, independent or reeker-launch sites, a nd a lmosL 'l~n t.i rel y reus a b ],e, '}'o achieve these IIQ~~l~,th~ d{'~1:lhf!1!(.)I':!:l C!~ated a system in which the orbiter perched un i:~'w ha(Jk {If' u MghlyFtwdi.~ fled Boeing 74-7. The 747'f$ fuscl81.J;l"C


ihf!. ,rlrbit,r.r. No I:nle~ is r)i''i,H)le. bllt (t Jtylm:d air- hr'f'.rf ~hiJ1g j .md~el- ~yr:l~ r1 ng i ne pmbabl,!, hr. eS;'lf!nlial foJ' this hind of u.r.hi· de. Hm:i!:\,\!~.n

wouhl held 100 tons of liql.lid hydrogen {LH2} and. .liquid oxygen (LOX) in W¢~~-i!~.l'.1(l~~t{ld tauks, and i!J!. $¢ Ror.JieeMyne space shuttle main en.gijll(~ would be iinstuHcd in the ta~L The 01'biter itself would be fitted with ~GVel1 uprated Pratt & Whitney RL-l0 engin~.-:;-v~n:;iom; of a rclluble, proven LH2~LOX rocket=-and would carry a

large. external fuel tank.

To hn]~l~:h th\) ALSV, the 747 would! climb 1.0' 22,000 feet and fm the vehicle's Hght, untnsulated external luel ttlOk in the cold upperair, Then, the mother ship would tire ]j$ rocket e.ngi!:Hl I.llld climb at .'1 !"5.ixty-deg['ee angle to ;J'i';OOO feet l)efl)rt~ releasing the orbiter, which would contmueintc orbit, The launch point could beany-

where in the world because the 747 enold be refueled in mght to Rive i.t t~rfectivcly unlimited rnnw;); ALSV, Boeing, and. the USA,F said, coul d be operatIon, 1 fU!I c~\rly as 1988, hut it W~l!"\- not funded.

Instead, jJlt) USAJ:o' eontinuedwith a series of studies under IJH;) Advanced Spaceflight CapabiW.)' (Al\.fSC) 1~1;()grftm, By 19M; thi~ work a hype.l'i.'iorlit: {ti"cl''af~ {rant (1; .r;iJ!WI?f~U9.'U! r .rwwm;v c(w bit C~ jjIYlb.{rwi" ()i/' ccu".',e short wings ami high fuel loads can IrU(j;t hl:gh ,1(Ik~'(}tr fi,p~M'(k 'Ph-ilS ROiJ·!.:w(!U concept uses what might. almOfJl be called" (i..

''fi)'!)J:g ~led'''; Exlw,wit {!.'(nTI, live jet engines i« l1'tj'Wwd J'lmt,ll'i'l~fmH~ .OU! rclil~g~' and Ufft'o tite entire veh.idf! on a. cunhiun ota:il" beiore N (M;!l·f.! to frying .~p(l.!':,d .. Rnl!k well


Chapler Two

had generated a number of much more embitious designs, with some ef'the same goals as the visionary Aerospacep~il!.n·e .of tJ~·e 1960s_ The cb~~(:; becal'ne known tl~ the 'l'!·Hn!;>'l'i.c Vtii!1lde (TAN).

TAV dflf'i~gn fi; I,qil.d ed, but fl!ch" main t:om.mOTli flwtm"G was that they could descend from orbit to aUi tudes b~Lw~~Niln 250,000 ~t'!d a50,O{)O I~'~!., ~t speeds. or Mach 26...:28. beJo>'e >,eb;rrfling to orbit again .. Some WC:H't) designed fU'1" air lanm:11, S01n~ forzsw.le~~,gt~l()l' vertical. launch using boosters, and some for runway departures using specially designed or modified carrier

aircraft .

An FBI. ~cl1nlc~11; pupor published in early lElS3-before Baagan-era se-

(TCC.y policies reached fun blom11-gHve a remarkable gH~mpse of p~an8. at thf!: tlme. The paper disc~Js:,\(ld aManeuvcring Re-entry Rest~arc11 Vehicle (MRRV), d~p,ig!~@d~() pave l:I~ @ way few an operational AMSC vehicle or :)1 'rAY, The MHRV could be built in various dJiffer·~nt <5[,1;,(303, from {JJ fifty"foot" long, 4o.,r.)()Qpounci vehicle carried a]oH, by thespace shuttle, Lhn:mgh a forty·foot, :30,000 pound vehicle launched by a Titan IlfC to a small tw~nty"tlve"f()ot vehic~elallnc;he,d by a B-52_ It; would be capable of orbltal. trallsatmospheric, and hypersonic flight.

Tht1 P:l[}tW [111':;1) nIU$j~l"$!l.ed a fun~cr~lcrrux:]t"u.p of H:!J. FDL-5 sh .. ped VIii!hk~.e designed by FD Land Lockheed.

Another ~Iiew (~f th~' skd-larmdn~d Ror:kwrU f'{m(!~I!'I, ,~hm.r;(ng t.hat it l:liifX" !'~1.r~t1 jw# aft~r takf!.(J:fr The ,..,h1d wflJ'lld. t"el!U'17.

(futomat1£ control and land' at the l'W'lWO)'

/'1 JUI1.1 lr41 , .

Lm_\trdlA'!iJ:d lS3W!Cl f.hi!! hnpl',,;!:!,'t.'dQrL of u 'T::4 V d~!3ijtll in fr}.[/4, Few .df!fuils W~rit ginon, ~w,t

Rocket-p()\"''1~lt~d- andin the X· 15 size class, k was to be fitted with a pall- of 11H'Il:C u:,:wl'I'i,al fuel tanks that n~t!!l(l around its nose like a cellar. 'I'hisresearch led to n cOl1vergenr,,€ of' hyperAotl,k and orbital vehieles: the former w:ith higher speeds, and the latter with b~Ut~r a()roclYi~amjc.~ ~l1arl the shuuls and transatmosphl;":Tit maneuvorabflity.

Not ]ong afterward, Lockheed announced that it was studying a strate-

ii W(I'$ appaf'.f.mJty pOWF?l',(j.d bJ' (I modij'if!d 81wW~ nm!.·ill ('itJ:ilU.!'. Lm::khflCld

gle reconnaissaaee TAV. fly mid·1981, the project involvecJ several hundred people in tho Slunl~ 'Works, at Rmdwt= dyne, and ;;,t other aubconl.ractors.

Howevel'; the more ambit.lous g:o~t~;s of the 'rAV -versus th~ mcro modest, state-of-the-art approach typirlt~d by the AMSC~ml)unt that .il. would require some basic advaneesm materials- and propulsiontechrrology, Even iil~ 984, with burgtlOfling dcfem;·~ budf:{ets, it was .impossible to envisiolil


'[,hifi W85 U,,~Al7 t;/m/;)' for a, !;1i!!ltle-stagelO·-QrbiJ 'fA V' f~atureb~ she C'ornbirted-eydt! (mnin~'I!i {In at~~ 1;ihhj~ (:.{ {f .c;()IJit..'trl uddy, Ot» tr-I!'~i~{~d for rc~'{~nn(Iis&mcl'1 Or slrike, ulilh a !!tttWn, .l(jw·m]lunu~ .lwJ'lmuf. thl1 d~srgn ['nt·

phald2f!.ll light: we/_gh.L USAF .

Tkl!. USAF TA V study fi?aturr!d ~l t."Onical afl b()(ty Ihelf. eM.!ta{~ (!,~ au I~;~rf{lm~iu~r minI' lor thl!. side-me« ntf!d f!l1Kines .. USAF

an operational TAV before the late 19HOs .. Hyparsrrrrie hardware sLi11 appeared to be !Jon the back burnev,

Or was it'} The MRRV. the F.DL-f) 101m pe, and o ~h er hypcrsoll iea II'·cra it discussed in the 1983· paper shared

one -ciistinguisl;dng- feature: :it plain, biangular planform with a leading-edge !'; Wi,H.!P of ~eV(!-11 ty-li vo dog-tees, j ust 1 i ko the aircraft th at Chris G'ihson saw over thu North S-ef!J. in Augw';L 1'D8H.



The Hlyp,erso'nic Revol trtlori

The plan_s~com.pI'isin:g smne,th.irly separate pa.tents., each essentlal to the working 011:' the whole...

-Conan noyl.e~ The Brncc-Partingtan Plans

'I'hers are three reasons why the North Sail skewh I!; U~cri mO!1t per!'>utl!~ sive rCliidiboTl of AU]"O'-~ii to appe:)r so far. ']'he tirst is the observer's qualifications .. The second is the fad that the North 8e~1 .a.~rr:rO)n corresponds a]mosl. e:-r{l{!tly in shnpu arid size to hJl~)()I1!iQl1ic reconnaissance aircraft studied in the 1970sand H180s by .Mc:DonneU Dougla!S ~Ji:1id the Air FMGf:. Thi rd, the North Sea aircraft looks totally unlike [myt·hlnglil~s{J. No a.LI'cr:nf't, other than :fl. hi.ghly $~.Jper,'jl)ni.e ve,hid(l".(lF a test aiecraft for such a vehicle, has ever been built or ~t.umed wUh such a !)la.~lf(l!'m,

The hypersonic regime has smue unique characteristics. On 11 of s.peed and altitude, thenracticel flight envelope looks like a narrow, curving ftmmd: At Imy giv{!nMat~h number, the permiss ibl e aJtihu:Je ru nge is small, On the low and fast side of' the en ve lope, rric.~i on genera tes too much heat fur the vehicle to endure f(Jr more th~'1(!~ ~~cm~ds; this PlIl!lt of fh() envelope belongs to shert-time-of-fhght "hypervuiocity" missiles.

OIl the high and slow $~~C, Ul~l'~ i~ not enough dynamic airpressure (the

pressure lise caused by the vehicle's sl)l!ied) to g!.u;;t~in level '~1 ight or 00 feed :illr·brel1thing engines. The shuttle operates in this regime in its vertical, roeket-bcosted ascent.

At hypersonic speeds, aerndynamie (]e£'ign givtl.5w[I!Y to acro-thermodynamic design. Not on~y must the vehicle generate minimum drag, but it also must he free of de.sign f'e::::ltu.rell> that give rtsc to concerrtratjorrs of he~t~the cl.e::!ign 1'l1USt spreadshe hunt over the stnJi.,eture, pref.e:rab.~y i.n places where there it> (\I'1OiUgh TTl ass ~ll diestpatuit quickly. CtlllV[;)t1.i;h)J1uJ, thin-section wings an.d! tail surfaces ~!'HH;t beellrnlnated til' m[l{lt~ [l;!<; small 818 p ussible,

Thermal management is eritiea], 8k~n ['rict~on pump~ hMt Gl1.ergy into the ~in::iraft, and! it must he pumped. out agnin if the vehielo is to hu ve any endurance .. The OJlly wa.,v to do thiais to heat I.h e fuel befhre it ; s Jed to the Cn~!'1,I;, and dump theheat uV(J·rbOn!1l tJn:ough the exhaust .. This, of OOHr8G, ~8 done on Mach 2-3 suparsonie C!'Ll~.f!,erS sucn WlI tne C'_~rH;[]nkl n~1Id SR-71, lmt 11. 1.5 more severe OR a hypersonic vehicle.

'I'he cooling eapacity 01" the fuel must he used cutcf;l.l.lly Ul1J{t efficiently; Oil· the vehicle's range and endurance will he limit~d l)y h(~f~tir~g ntH,!)!" U'mn fuel en·p~~(:ii'ty.

Coo[ing is only a part of thermal manegement, Acceleration, oUil;ud,tl changes, and maneuvers all change the heat Imuling and the heat distrihution, aecurate fhght control is essenHal. Also, e v en thl~ be!'l.L e(I[JlIng' scheme does not. eliminate the n,cCJd rOt' high· temperature materials.

The conventional [u.I·boj et e !lgi fie is out or the picture, Any j~t inlet ~y~. tern is dcs]gn~d to decelerate the ]:11- t,ctming ~tit'iii·b~a~'il to a ('iplilod thn~ the engine can handle: in the case of a jet, t.his speed may be barely transonic, At the SOllU€ time, the air i:!'i eompressed and. heated, Above Mach 4"':5, this P!"OCl!8S g merutes such hightemporatures 11 t the inlet face that no turbi ne engine could compress it Further and survive'. Palllauves iHICh a~ ~bhl'cditi.g' much of the airflow past the engine, which works on the SR· n, will noL work at such speeds,

The bask prjnciple of any hypersUl"iic T:WQPtlh'~0fi ~y5tcrl1 dates back to France in the 193015, when Rane Leduc pa ielll,ed i.1! e aure-thermodynamic duct, orramict, Like any air-breathing internal combustion engine, the ramjet 0l)flr;,J,t~fl on !j!, compresslon-combust:ion·expi.lJl si.Ui1 eyel c. andprod ucss net PO'W{)l' because the expansion releases more en~rgy than is reqliJi red by the

eompression prooo:";s.. _

The basic uurcdynumie challenge in a ramjet-powered hypersonic de~ign-and 1l(J engine other than the "Hmjd, h:,Hl bnen shown to work efficicntly at such speeds=ds that the ramjet engines provlde tlil'"WI'!'1I10US thrusl., but Ui:;lt t.hey _,1 ~(I ~cncr a tG enormous drag in the process, of slow-

The Hypersonic RevoluUM

ing down and compressing the Maeb G airstream, Net thr'ust, Ul' the difference between thrust arid drag, is only u small pm.'f:;ion iIlf the total (,hrlH!it, .\I{~ a small increase in drag can wipeit {Jut completely .. When the net thrust reaches Z(3to, the ain::raft has reached its maximum. speed.

ThQ WHY to make the ramjet enJ.,";,nc efficient is to spread it over the entire length of the vehicle. The SR.71 did this t.Q sorns 1l'!:I!I.el1t bsenusc it~ engines breathed! <iiI' that had already IJIJ(jJl eomprsssed by the shock wave oll' the nose. In a hypersonic ra~n,~et aireralt, the entire underside of the forwm..a body is a ram" that compresses the air, and the entire undsrsi de of the tail is an exhaust, nezz]c. The ramjet "cnwl'' beneath the body is iust the high-pressure section of tile erigine.

So much cnmp!"~!l;sod uir underneath UH.lbody serves <mother purpose: it holds the airplane up. For a hypersonic aircraft; w~ng8 are 8UP('li'fluous and, 3t Mach 6, a positive ernh;arn'u:5sme n~, eaasi n~ excess drag and

requiring extra cooling. _

'I'he ramjets need .;1 larg~ inlet area 1.0 ()r{)'\I'ije tho hii;h thrust needed fur Mach 6 cruise. As a result, the engines occupy a large area hel'l(J.uh the vehicle, At the same tim,c"the nc sd to aecommudate 11 large-volume fuel drivestho ah'craft tOW~"d;;ll~ ~Il·body shape.

H.igh speeds havo tended to be asSUCi~l~cd. with short 't"anr;s~ bl1FEiLili was seen with Ute small, 15,nOO mile range D·21 dron(~-lhiS is riot- necessarjly I.rm}. On<.l reason fer the D-21's great range is that it was a "point design," with III very mIlT!)W m,ghl, envelop '. It did notneed to fly below Mach 3, so its sirrrple, fixed inlet and exhaust were designed to operate emcient1lyin ih design flight n~gime, The inlet cone,


f1n' example, was gradually flared so that the air moving over it generated fi series of relatively weak. shocks at the D-2]'8 (!~.·uii3ing ~P@@(1. The D-21 did nut need fuel to climb to ]Eg cruisjng height, ii_, 'had no landing gear or recovery g~ar~ ~U1d it neaded to be ~ttQn,g enough for only one flight, so its structUl'e was very light,

A B·52,w]th its long-span wing, has an inharentlyhigh Iift-tu-drag ratio (about 19:'1) ilL Hs normal subsonic cruising speed, A delta Hke the .D,21, wiU'I the skin friction and wave (I ra g .H:HiiO ci in ted w ith i h su person ic cruising speed, will be hard put to achi€!v~ a lift-Lv-drag t'it'io or 6:1" 'rile B-52 seems to be more efficient=but I;h,~ missing i'a(lOOris speed,

A faster aircraft uses enctgy (drag) ~o resjst gravity (!ift) at a higher rate than a sl()w~I' aircraft, but. it. eovers the ground faster, so it uses ¢ner1')' for a shorter parted. The classic Dreguct runge equation 011.0w5 for th is: the lift-to-drag ratio is mnltiplled by th!:1! Mach number (M x LtD). The M(VD) f4)r the Maeh 0.85 B-5'2 is lH::l; fOI' the .D- 2-1, it is 23; L

Engine (l!rnClC!1CY is also I'l factor.

Overall pressure ratio (OPR) is a benchmark of em.Cl.e!l>t:;y for a t.urhojet 'or ramjet engine, JUll!t as cempression ratio is anmdicator of efficiency for a pi,;swn engine. EJv~l'i today, an OPR: of 35: 1 ]8 a mark of' a high-efficiency subsonicturbine engine. But at Mach 3.8, a simple ramjet like the R.T4.8 could generil,tc an OPR or more than 40:1 (an un~lt:taim!'bl{l 11gnnl for a turbine engine 'in the 1960s) with no mQving paris.

Of course, an efficient high·speed shape won! d be of little use if' the aircl';aj;1,. could not take 011' and Iand flit normal speeds, At :Hlch low speeds, Am"Ora draw:;; c}l'l the results of the 10 ft-

lag-body research done b.Y' NPl.SA and the USAF" in 'Ch~ 1960s; .a no 1970s. There are two main factors that make, these wingless ShOl.I)C5 praetical at rHH"· mal takeoff and landing speeds, Firlj,t, the entire body is a liflJng surface, ami it nJiUl, ,Ei, gt-e€J.t deal of nl"'O~I, Sec(J.!ld." lilea the Concor de's wing, the shf:lrplly swept leadingedge generates a powerful vortex f1Jt high angles of attack, which dings to the leading edge and bQD~ta the wi n g's 1m.

Stabili ty and control .301"(;1 challeng'M for a hypersonic aircraft. 'l'he ferccs acting on th e I<xrw ard part of 1.11 t~ body-theinl,ds and body siidcs~<ue extrt'mlc]y large, 1:l.IHnj{)t unstfll'tS.; where a shock WO'lVC thv.t is normally contained 'within the cluct pops out 'Of it, call eausc rapid ineronses in. dt·a,g that are not necessarily symmetrical. But the all-body shape does not. provide an i:d~wl environment for ~)nV13n~ tional control surfaces. 'There is not It'Iuch spa.!\ avaflnule [til' e~.!2Vo!'Ir;;, which are also on the back of a ICIng. ChON! wing. Vortices Irom I,he f1m:!boCly can blanket, buffet, or nth .rwise interfere with the verticals at high angles of ~ ttaek,

This is why the nutcr wings of some hypersonje designs, inc~udh'lg the National Aerospace Plane (NASP) design, have become all-moving surfaces fOl' piteh am] roll centro]. The SIze 'Of the verticals is a matter fOF debate .. Me Donuell Do'ii~· studies have J'r~thcr large vertical snrfaeea, above and below the body, which help with s!:-,'lhilILy by acting a:r;; endplutes for the ull-rnoving wing tips: NASI\ and a NASA study disclosed in eady 11:)93, have quHC,i small surfaces, The F.D L-5 shape , w hieh fo:mwd the basis for a USAI'·Lo(lkhcQcl study, was carefully contuu red according to ~! principle' dubbed "compression shar-

1'I'1..e .l:lyperfj\onk:. .Revolution

ing, ~ and!. used on~y a s]ng.~e vertical fin,

Control problems may also be eased b.y using uuconventionul devices to handle the most dil1icult cases. In

some McDonneU Douglas dp-,gugns, !lmallli"Dtracl;abll(): "must;o;u;:lHt wlng tips wer,G used W help rotate the aircraft for tilJn:mi1', allowlng tilt! elevens to he made ~:n11;)net. Also, ahighly sw(.~p1~ all-

Dt!IS,~dbt!d as ,(1, NA/BP d!!.~iJ?n wh~n it Wet.'>' ~l~',(["'rtd fn lU86,. f,hi~ .fl..ki5umwU Dml~fl(~~' wrN,;cpt is w:tually ,epr~s(!nta~i~li? of tht:

cmnpnny',:;; JMach (J hype.1·o:oni() studie« ... MOo [)::mndl D~Jlttf~la~


elm.pte.r Three

Minimum Speed

1160 .... 180 ps,f D'ynamic Pr'essure

Altitude 1,000 H




100 psta Internal Inlet Ducl Pr€'s!:lulfl!l

Max,limum Speed

-750 pst" Dynamic Pres$u!(~





Mach NIJ rnber


'J'he "hypt!I':Sonic {im.m!.l" 1:13 d4i1U~d by the tact. . ., ttuu fhf!'!1 L~ lj'~,~ d(;i!1~() (ill !rl.GTctUlC'S, and that the rlwvcment ~'ll)hlt f}~hi(,'lt!!, cause» d'::I" ,PNll!!!SW'e CI.:IJ il forces air om of iss path. ,Abov.e the top "m i:ninmm f'/}ll!;jd" line, awn' is Jar) Uale air .t)l'·{~8~ UTe to lift the ~ieh i~lc {n- ma,ki~' Il irbre« f hillJ! ~ngilli'!.~ LliQ-,'li; below thrt tmttom li 11r~, pn:~5nn18 are too high (ur the t;tmr.· tw',~_ ThaI.! is a high-''''l~eed limit OR oon·

body could be a suitable application for ~'\,f,:tiv~ vur!;ex control, ,By u;.';ing either a very small movable surfuee or au air jut to modify the leading-edge vortex,

1,,'t!raiQ/1ai ramjets, where the iniet preseure fl:~,fj ',~d Ii 100 POti,7U;/.r, pf!.1' sqrl (l, I"I! iuch rmr.l IJ'Jf;:ight. becomes a. problem" Sonic Doom, ~1Jt1'PJn'~s~urw. drop by mtmJ drtm half'l tise cruise (i,hi tude' in:r.rea,,<;":~\'t (rom {}'O,.oOO [eet (CfJil(:()rdd to 8()JJ()() I~M (SR .. 71) .. A h,)!pC'l'SDnic: !H,,:h.inlrt H-t J()(J,{J()O {«lit, 17WY'W~ h~a;JJe: any lU!.rl~ept.iblc boos» on the .fJ1'OIJ;f~d JvlcDu[iIi ·11 Dnuglas

researchers have ShOWI.ll that it 181)08'snblc to generate v(~ry powerful yaw and roll threes. [)[J~ng so predictably and cont!'f)n,lb]y is a challenge,

The Hypersonic Reootulwn



Q 2 4 6 ,8 1 0 '12 14 16, 18 20 22 2. ~,

Mach nIJrlllibf,'r



Pounds of

thrust per 4000 I-~~rt~

Ib of fLlel

per 8econd3000

MI"J~J fmgirw P~1f}p.l{! trdk in lm'ms (.t( Rtj1~(:ifi~~ 11~el consumptirm.; hvperf;oll.ic ond rocket!['Ii,gn(! '''~ tiiUil ,rl,hml"i. '~l)(!();tl.r!' imp u h;l'!pmmds of per affuel p8r Sf:C' ond. 1'r.I.I=bDj{~t~ tU'l.:! very l!(fivU.:!nl., but do no} WtJrk irlo;r;/t abr)Ut" ll.f~I(:h J bt',;;(~uQ'~ tht: .fern" p<:Hrt.I1rI').S (II'!"? I-(u) fijr O~{~ l1l.:,.b/IUl .•

AtH'OI'a appears small when seen kotn dif~.N!lly below, lit may btl j], .. much H s twenty feet shorter than an SR- 71, Size, however, .us very deceptive.

8tnj~;tur;3] 1y, the a111·bndy s hnpc i i\i hughly efficient, mainly because there 9.1.'0 nq aeredynamie H~r;lI()¥I!de~'s liks ~ con vention a1 fuselage, am] the a vsrage [~!'o~t:HH:~djorlal "J"C:) is larl"tu. It offer:;;; OJ. h"l'[~at {hJ,IU {if volumc-e-space for usetul load, equipment, and fuel-inside a f.!'~I"u~lUl'e~ ~h,:t~, ir;;; ligM, erneii)ml" 0)1'lt! (;~Jlnp,)(;t,jnd h,,~ H r(llnt\vcly small surface area to genera te :IH.cti.on drag.

AUl"flWa could w~~:igh i},f; !nllc.h ~ii!i 1700,0000 pOllnds funy loaded, hut a dear two-thirds of its mass would be fuel, and it could be more" This com" pates wah ~he 57 per-cen~ I'I,J{')] fr[i(:tl(Hl

Il:.::::::::{:s%.rj HyodmcariboC1ns I~ HVdifog~a]

HtUtt/I1I:$ 1·ldit fhml Mw:h ·1 to M,t~,~h 7, but tht:V' produce I.W ihrus: at stan.dsiW and lU~lf'. bdow M,ar.h 2, .r:lyd:r~gen provid/ts high specific ulse, h€c(m$~' ('}f :u~ lin· IIwnse. enel'g)' cDnt~nt per unit of'lvdght Pl::!~'~ & Whitney

of the SR. 71, which] e good by tn (1St f;lttmdttil'dr;;, ~IVOI'i todmi'~.

The choice of fuel is a basic conside~'aUon" As O;llteady no.~ed, Lho fuel is used to eool the vehicle. Athyperscnic speeds, however, even all exotic h@!.·D?l~nfl (o>y(}l) ~)~ th~,lP-1 w;'H~d hy l.h!J SR. on can flJ)t a ])SOt1)en (lUglii h () ,It to meet theeooltna requirements without brcnkjl1g clown chsmicaUy and -clogging the fuel system,

'rhjJn~ are H number of unusual hydr ocarbcn fuels tha t can absorb greater heat. I¥lethylcycl.[jhe~ane, (MeH), fur examplu, ar~2od.'J!!! ~Hl~H th r ou gh a chemical reaction and br eaks c.low~n. into hydrogen and toluene, which can thenhe burned a:3 f~l(~L For Aurora, though, the most



Pounds of

~hrust per 3000

Ib of ri..i'el f---- __

per second


Ar~ (~;t;:pand~d :r"if!W 0( lh~ lmuer left imrner of the previo·Wi gl'r).:ph. this' shows hom an. a.iI' .. (r!lfIm('nr.~d or rlWlr."r:i t'ockC!t acUfJr.1W higlul' I5p(.!(:f.flt: impulse Oum [J pur« rocket

likely solution is a. cryogenic fuel-a cold, Hqnefisd gas. The Slt:Ul'!.k Work'" knew a great deal about cryogenic Iuels thunks to the GL·400 program, and had blown the dU8t off its records during the 1970$ when it proposed to build anex pm'imci.');bd hyd rog~Jfl.f1i,lClcd freighter based on the Lockheed 'l'riStm: jetliner, In 1981, cryogenics were mere or a known quantit;)" than exotic hydrocarbons,

The h(.!st <::~nd!df1i!.c rmJls id,r.mtiJied so far are and hydrogen. Methane i,., abundant: it fOl'TnS 85~95 percent of natural gas, II; pr,(;JvideEl 15 percent more energy per pound! Ulan conventlonal l~ydrocarhn!l1 fuels, and can ahSI,.})"b more UUI.n four times as mueh heat, It is ~jql.l·td at minus .fo.rty~



and ·r.rm SIJ'Ut! Wi' thfJ' acr.I'IHI'ff.(nr fur ({ ramJet- . .4 tlD'oojet is more r:mdenl but fm~r;h

h.(!fJ,ljifff, .

three degrees Fahrenheit at atmoe'ph~m'ic PI'CSSm'C.

Liquid hydrogen {LH2}, which is used on the shuttle, provides mflr(~ energy and ahserbs mcre heat per pound Ulan <,mv other fuel. It has more than Lw'i eu the en L\! rgy per P()-I!JIH~ of methane, and ahsorbs almost six. tim{~fij as. much heat,

The snag with LH2 Ii;! its V(),'y low density, ene-thi.rd that nfliquid methane. This rneana blggur fuel tanks, ;;1 larger, heavier airfnnne" and IfHJrC drag. While LH2 is the fuelof t,:ht)]ce fbI' n SpJH!c vehicle (whkll aeeclsrates quickly OUlt of the atmosphere), studies have shown that methane Ls better' for an air.'l:ruft cruising at J\,.fUdl 5-1. For th{~ same range and payload,


the methane-fueled ak!'craf't is smaller UilHJ Hghte:r Lha.n an LH2 akl\~n11l. l.H2. with at boning-point of minus 42J) dSogrt~e.s Fahrenheit, .1 s alse more dimcu~.t to store than methane,

Methane is easy to use as a fuel; in many plfl,c~8, carEl m~,d other vahieles have he-{~n adapted 1,0 btirn~iqui.d. natural ,gas, On tho gn:nwd, itcun be stored. in pressurized eylinders at ambient temperatures, McDonne],[ Douglus has studied in-Ill igh t, r{lr~~.~] with liquid mcthHr'le, .:mdl it poses no fundamental problems: a Ke-13S, n:uu1i lied with 1 ightw('!ight.,in8ulated tanks 0111. its TI1al" deck, enuld eas,j]y (l~H'l'y e~!1Jou~ih methane to() fuel ian eighty-ton at reraft,

Because the liqll;dl'ne~ \· v ants to be a gas~ the A~WUl'~l (b;f:)]b'11lCJ'~ ~lUVC ~(nnc novel options in engine As noted, therels Btl:k~ d~fl;agr'~'(!mtml, tll,lit, the!t ]8 the mesteffieient means of propulsion in the eruise. It is also i''~e, 1n !H'inci!)le: fli~' i~ flwood 'i!~t() the in ]et by the [n();v*~lnent or the vehicle, compressed, and mixed with fuel, The: mixture isiguited and a llowed to expan d,prod uci ng thrust.

'l'he l'tl'fl'l(jc~, ]:,; fundnrnentajly different from other engines in thatthe a~l' is c;)(lI'lilp]'es~ed rHl~y by the forward mOVU1'llCnt of the enUre en~i,nc,~':] ther than by pistonsor rotating airfoils. An.V movLt:lig pa.l'ts in. the gfilii :!ltl."c",m ,1:rol',h()H~' to rnednlate the nnw, notto add energyto it (Hlw a jct';'O corn pn:~!'O· SOl') 01' to t~ks it aW.1Y (Iik[;) u turbine),

Consequently, the ramiethas two basic and unique <lUl"i~.:n..I!l.(!S, '1'1'IB ~h~t, is that zero airspeed cqua!:\l 7~cro power. Any ramjet-powered vehicle 11.(!cdH fin a()()c;:lcn!"Hb)l'-rmol,he~' thrust, souree that can puah it to a speed wherethe ramjetwill operate,

The seecnd U5 that the ramier's power and cfl'h;i cl'1(:y .IIX'. pn)portXon al

1. 'he H;ypen;onic; Revolution,

to speed. Like a piston engine or a turbine, the ramjet's statif.>Uo!>=power·to· weight ra ti op ower" to-fro ntal- a re a ratio, and fuel efti.cienc:y-aU. improve as the overall pressure ratio improves because it can do more work by pumpil'lg th~ g~nue ·~llJOlll1t of !ili:!\

'The. only way to improve pressure! rutlo tn a ramjlJl. i s tt) incref]~e ~h .. speed. It fellows, thcrefere, that iiiliI'ly l'a[lI.]jet- poweredvehicle has a ( ... '1.".itical ~!)~~d ,flUl(] [lltitud~ f.!t wh~{lh th~ .!.;'a.!t1j~t n]c:me wUH ptovi.c]e enough power to overenme the vehicle's drug,

Without cornplieated moving parts, though" a!'l'IrnjieL cannot operete c ffkicm. tly 0 Vel' H wi d c s P e e d 'l'lUlgo, Pressure and velume m:'!i! inversely rekited (Boyl.f~'s~~;aw)_ II':,a ramjet is wop" crate cffidonUy, the rlrC:~~il of 1I;!l) in~e!:, duct, and nozzle must va.ry an:o:l.'ding ttl the ... ,lI'yi.l'lg pressure of' I.htl gas 8he,rm as ii, moves ~,hr( the engine. 'D.'hese areas can be varied, up to a P()U!l:t, but only by l~~tm.p ~l.nd l'Hw.zlc systems which become h]gger and more {'omp]icalt)(l a~ the desiI'(!d SPNld range 111Cre,[l!1(,)s,

MOISt hypersonic studies :S.iHlW that th e ve hid u need ~ an aeeel eratnr that can take :i.t to a speed between M~iirh 2 anti . .Mach~l The Lockheed D-21_ had a remarkably ·effi.cientengine,. but It ow crated only in a narrow speed Hmge, fl'mn Maeb .2.BtQ Mach 3.8, and needOld a ea rrier al reraft or booster to reach that speed. Other high-speed ramjet vclli]cl~~-i':iuclil tl~, tyd~#n 1;5 or 130- IlUlIl''C-were designed to be boested to Maciel :2 Or' ahove l'Hsforl'l the hnneter dropped HW:;ty,

The eriticaldeeign ease for the acC!'C1!lerator ma . .}' be the tra.nsQnie :~Ol~l,);, around Mach L Till': vehicle is fun of fuel, ih.e ramleteyelc is lmlllly operatlonal, and drag hits VI hump. Even the sleek SR:-71 :normaHy dives through

Chapte.r Three

Uj~per: in (l r{)t;ket-basr.d f1\r~mM!Ni{lh:;,)Ir.lft en.gim?, th« .liquid mcthll.JH~ {u..d flows (hr()[(~h all, ,(J ilir(Jf.nfJ r."{W'Jing r.i1'r.uU (1) or u. h~u:lt f!.:)[{;/larl/Jli!r (2) in the .r.mlq)i·(~;S5Vr air f'·lhl. '1'h; C;1I:p{Uu:iilljJ mdliCiiifl di'irI4"N 11 turbin« (3), which spi.n1:J the c.on:~p.ressor (1.). The m.(!UUW{~ .qJ1{:1. l!'um.iH(!.luil~(l~lil· (U'~ fmrneu in. 1"fJdu!:t·.t.'IPt nu;;zif!s (5) insid« lh.~ Itl.mjet dud .. i\.t. Pip!!.ed8 below Mad! B' •. ~, f?xtrr:l mr!.~hfJnc· and LOX fln~ liWppf.if!d ta th« noo2'I~:\l to gr.memt.c n:tm':~ Ou,us'. A~ the ~'.p..-

hfd,~ Uf;t;e.{,r,mt«s, m(m~ mt'tlum~, is lhruugh tJw inJecl~)r (·6) and i.e; lmm{?(/ in th« (j;jl'flmiJ imfm'rng ilu.! l'ttJi!,j(!l .. l~mml1·: (~t cru..isin/:l' speeds, lh« eomnressor inlet. (.!;ul iulet J,I("al (I.w:!lml.g{~!, (U'C ~1w~ dauin, the corflprel5S01" is' u.n~(JUplf!d frorn thf!: tur .. b.ille, mid the rocket n02z11f:J;!, UI1j' l'etr(1:{.!ted. 'The hOI: lw:1- (tows thrml,gh ;,h(~ t uTbine ta pouser the ain:ru{i:'s B)'i~tem6 iJr'u:l is fed to the ramj4?t. JhrvrWh ttl(! i/~jr.ctrlr .~t.l'Ii~ W).



. -,.- ~- ..

.....•.•.••• ~ ......•.............•........


. AIor/ill-1] (rom JP"-:i ~o t!'lr.awne (i;llr! {rom In~~hmtl;' to h:ydft.)g.-w. inc.;'I;!'.(lse.s lh~ <?;Mrgy a~wilabll~ fnmi ~n;ch lmrut:d of {Wit, btu 111A2(tnS that,enel'gy .i." ,r1AJui.l(l:{de per un it (if ~Qlimw l)(~~(Wil'ii mfH'IUrJi,!]] (md .hy.

the transanie i'~gi me, suas to break through it faster and sa VB fuel.

The elassicaeeelaeatoe solution is the turbo-ramjet, in which a ramjet. an d .J b.rrLoJet share a single inlet unci n(lz.>!:lr;l~ fmd thG r1.iJ'!.).jet ()(i~Ilb~]stg.r is also the augmentor. The SR-'71's ,158 t:ngine. Is dose to a ~utbo'·I·atl!ljet beC'JU.s~~ t'r:iuetlofttle a ~l'Iluw in the 'l!:Fui:s-c bypasses the bare engine; in a true trwho·t."_'_rfd~~, thfl ~)rQCiil~B ls earriad fllrt;h~t and t~H:J turibojet section is shut off eomnlotely at cruising speeds. The trouble wit~.1 this solution, however, :~s that the j.urb()je1~ and the ¥<)nHMe inlet and no;t.;:r.le are dead w,eight U11d velurns in cruising flight, and the turbo-

drogen {~~ dn.i;flWU(~(llly t(j/j" d(j'r!~e th(~.n is ,JP-4. A.8 $}~(n~Jli h,r:ro;., th~ fuel UUlli gels lr~rg~~,.,; .uw em tir« tdrfl'yuwl i~~ {j,l.g!!;,w; (l:wi it nel?ds nwre lhm.<;t, j)'u,rticu.larly for ll'c.m· ~vn[r~ atf:~lm;r,I.t.ini~. ,McD(mI1(i1~ DCiUg~f1A

ji:i!;S~U"(l not !!Im~H: Uwy h ave t(l he! powerful enough. for tal;:eoff, climb, and h'an:'-!n,nk aCtelel'at;[}n" An ALlJ.!.'m·a= size ve hi ele WflLt M need 0:11 least Fm:lf l<Jirge fif,l;ht~r engines,

HY~~~~'~Q:n io' propu'l ~J(~ ~igl1~ t'~ rats dHJerent engines aecording to a number eancd'1~p·(ld.r1t impulse" (FSp).. ISp is the IUllOU!lt ef thrust, m pounds, produced by a pound of fuel in a seeond. Mlitl.h{lm.nUctdly, thildl t.V\H) pOi\l,nd quantities caned each other out, so lSp is measured in secends, iSp is reIl]],}' the aame as specific fuel consumption (8H::), but it indicates tho engine's thru.sI>[H'oducing potential more di~ reetly than <HI sfc number ..

In. 1.9713, [,oekh'ed proposed. ~r') bu.ild a .~m(1U rUJ m {)f1'. or moriijiexi L·l0.1.1 .(:1 irli lU!I "f:J' as hydrogen -pouJ{~rcr1 f~ffo!h tDl'~. to [~rJ(j Inat(' ,the pt)tf!.l~ti(d of' liquid hydrogen 0$ a (utaffJ jiml far r.iva iH)J:f~lit)l'l. Th« h~'I'(1.l"fJgNJ

An,), engine'!> spe-cinciJlipuhrJ varies with speed .. A 747'80 engine, for example, hal'> an "ISp of more Lhan 5,000 second::; at Mach 0,9, but i1l1) TSp ill, all at higher speeds, A turbojet has high ISp at Mf.lch J:, bu~ it dGchl1.~s at 2 and runs out above Maeh :3. Rockel,s have very ~ow ISr,-400 seconds is considered good, even with liqudd h.ydrng~n-b"Ut it is constant jj'onn ~,<H'O to M1H:h 25. ltamj'i.'lt ISp s~url.s at 7.~ero and! gradually buil ds toward

uiould. haoe Qf{('.rr ,r.;arri"erl in spc-cial exira l!t1Setag~ .te~liiiIt8· ji:.n~~ and t!R Dj' the wing. The PI'u.;r.ct shmm~([ tl1 (i f Lut:kh' ,d (;[m ,~.i(t· ered (1)'()g.~nil~ {ll(!l (0 be }Juitable thl" reguhi r (j j r~r-(Jt't (~P~11'(j UnINfI, I.oe It h ·j,ltd

Mach f3 .. The tt' is to Ilnda cornbinaLion of propulsion systems that provide a good I8p Hc;l"oI):;5S the whole mght nvalope, wil,hin acceptable weight limit::;,.

'I'h~l'e tl!'e two elues hI the way in whidl the. Aunm.l designers solved the problem, The N atioual At~I't}SrH'l~C Plene {NASP) teaIU,ope'n abU'l,lt most aspects of the program, has been tightHpp.{~d aoout even 'the most ba)~i,tl principh~·:j. of the "low-speed" nr "~;IC',clch"a-

tor'; portion of the NASP engine. Offi(;i.;)18 hav!) ir)d:itlt~tml Umt, in PUl't!J. of the tydc, it works <~~ a dncted rocket,

A duetad or air-augmented rocket is a wa,Y of bQosUIlJl1 the !'O(!1l!:~t'iiiFSp" The rocket exhaust is d:irected into au. nel'OdynflIDic duct, draws air t~H'flugh the duct, and accelerates H, At low speeds, thehl, rger mass flow and lower toti,l] cxhti~'i~;t vrilocity :nu\k~ th@ ellglfl(l more efficient. Also, the rocket exhaust can be made I'm~l.I·~c:h by reduelngthe amount of ()xidizcr<tvnilab]£, and the remaining fuel can. be burned, ~t'a~mj~t·~ty~¢,!n a rJl)mb~~sM')r.

The second clue to the Aurora en" girw Is that witnesses have reported unusnaluoises in the vic:inity or bases where Aml)ra 0iPcrtt tes, These include vm'y-]o'W"tl'oqrwm:y pu.I~,ing SOUllds,as slow as Que- pulse per second, and an ext1'emely loud nousseo~l takeoff.

R(l:rnall'l~':jbl:y, t.he $ut'1"TJlfifJ or pulaing sound is associated with. a. class or stan d sti 1 l-to-hyp eI'!HHl i e '~c(lrnb! ne dcycle" propulston systems irnv{roted in the late DJJ50,s for the Aerospace P~~\M,W~.lichw~s .. y aimilar to the X-30., according to th o se who worked on it, and eoneealed since then by obscurity rather than sacurlty, Similar engines have been investigi:rwd lin R.'U!~,':i·i ~t tl,n c]Jnpu f).

'I'hcs o powerpl ants <Jir~ called "rocket-based combined-cycle' (RBCC) enghH!s., An RBGC engh1~ uses cry'i)gen l c fu,el an J! combines features of a ramjet, a rocket, and a turbine engine in an integrated eingine that canprnviJE'l U~t!!J~~t rt\j.r"r'~ ~'S,taJldsW.l to Mach (5, n, h~ Hgontcf' t~l~U:l' u elussie tU:!'bo·l·'~m,~et and (lieli vers Mgher ISp 8.fmS5 the HIttire ~ peed tt.l.l'ige than a 1'4;~tib~t.-'!'.ftmjd eorn bi n <l~iJmL

The RBOC engine is based on a !·a,l.l.~j~t duct, which inQQt'pb!'u,tm5 l)o1.h :1 fuel injeel(n' and <"3. grou.p of smull

rocket-type nozzles, and 11 turbine-driyen eompresser (which is l'lent ,9, turbojet). The methane fuel ddv.eH the turbiM M i.t expands from a Iiquidto a g~l!S~ Iilno both th€ l:!'igh-pre!'.:!!lu:e o[IJil" from the compressor and UH~ methane [rom the turbine arc delivered to tho rQc]~):::t ne z zlcsin Um ramjet dlllct. Liquid oxygen {LOX) can be added, to th"e !io;.cr.les.

To s.tal"1; the engine, methane is pumped thl'Qugh the aircraft's skin, where it is heated to ambient tempera-


50 15




Fttmt (t .19.83 U.9AF NG.Prl.f', thifc1 shows· tfguratirmr; for a, variety of hypr:l'scmif. 1:'1i.<;" .'1il)l'j/i, 'J"hl,! h~gl!·3pr.wl ~n.tttlf;! 1J(~hi(!t~~-(t 7fJ" degree delta with an f!Vel'all length of' ju,~,t under 10,() j'i.'1!t-i~ l~ll'timdarly lwt('w~~rth.'l'_ USAF v ~8! David Seleg:an

ture, The methane expands through the tUi~hL!Hl, ~fJinn'ingt.he COmpI'flSSOr and purnping air into the nl)z~lcsp where the eempressedair-methane mixture is lgnited. The high-velocity rocket exhaust draws air through the rnrnJej, duct" As the engine ignite~" methane is used 1.0 ecol the ramjet duct Wang,_ pumping more energy into the turbine.

At idle and low speeds, however,

t.he ]f(]m.iet duct is teolarge for the airflow. 'i'he now bueomes discontinuous, with a cyclic build-up and release of pressure in the d uct, producin g the dlstincti ve noi ses ~\ssoei.a ted w lth these unidentified aircraft, nJC frequoney may be as lowas one P(H' second and the anrplitudc is very ~al."ge, even. with a. small test engine. "It's the sound Y'[)!i,l ever heard," s3Iys (me witness ..


Thi8 drawing o{.AUP,()N) is b'a~,(~d on the l\lO'·t,l.t :9'~,{1 11.¥f!witm'HS l'tporl {,!lui on oprm· sourc..'(~ I;;.tudi~s of;th: designs .. The fm"rdmdy proffJ'f: il'l f'(~t;~~~,d in lJoI'lh'I' er) .<;m.r:ma.l out th« increase ,in r~rO$s-!;NJ~tional


(m::!H ~tf()n1i thfJ. Dp..hicle (J nd rt:(:luc~ tnl-nsm.tii.l (il'ttj!. i"h(~ bidgml liIUll!I'silit! (It "h.m,. bI!.Uy"·resul!;;; {rom air: ~~se of the entire ll)ww· r(Jl',~brxJy as '-I. ~~'011'j:prt'<:;~'ion ra mp,

The pulsing is a low-speed phenomenon andhas :[10 connection with pulsed detonation wave engine (P'DWE) technology, which has been linked to thCllnll~tK'U "dOu.g}lnu~"ofl';1= rope" contrails that have-been seen. ave" tlul United Sl:ate3S, The explauat.i(nli fot U'It1&e contrailsis still not clear.

The RBCC cmgiin®ns®ds more UU'ust fortnkoofl~ c]]mbt and tl'!il.l'lSOJlir.> acceleration, so LOX is added. to the mc.kd nozxlcs, This, lJ'](o!"(l<JSe8 thdr exhaust v!ldotity ami dlruw~ mote alit the ramjet-in effect, the .. n,n~j{!t Lhinks it is!joing raMe!' Lh~tl the airplane -fInd thereby increases tile, pressure ratio to the poin twhere more methane can be added (thmlJlgh the fuel injector) and burned in the duct Th.c ltBCC eugine il; now running as an air-augmented. rocket.

'!'hcenb"inc need *' 1 ess oxygen as the v~hicclQ <1icIL\G:l~t~lWS~ f{l(!' two main reasons, First, more air isfiO'\ into the rnmj(l~,. duet,; .(',(l(lof).d, l.ncr~a.f';ed skin friction and higiH:)F dh:J{:l tempera, tures mean that the methane driving the lud)i~1G hDiS mOl'~ ene!'gy, 80 thtli eorttpressor is delivering moreair pte's, sure to the rocket neasles, 'l'he LOX now is gradually reduced and reaches zsro at about Mach 2.5.

At h.ilJh~l' speeds, th('o l:n(;lth~tno supply to the rocket noszles may be shut down (md a]! the fuel is deliv!H>ed thru1;llih th Q~lJ~l ~ nj ~{:t~)l" 1[J p to:;!] mos I; Mach 6, the compressor exhaust can (:(mUn we tn su.p~I.'Ch.<!.rge th~ l'm,mj~'ti.]'Jj~te:il.$ing its th rI:lst and ISp. At eruising speed, the eompressor ]n.let closes (th~ t:tll'bi.necontinnes to op(n'atL'2, to provide auxiliary power) and the strut with the l'oeket noz:t',k~s retraeteto reduce dragin the duct, 'Th~ engine can I,hen runasa pure ramjet,

PhYSjC.~ll1y, Ute tmgin{)~ W'£) Ii:! hi be installed in multiple modules, Severa]

small ramjets are shorter and lighter UU:~fl one large dt!.(:t wlU'!. tho 8~).mfl "drflow and thrust potentia]. The use ·of the wiele underbody as an inlet mmp makes it desirable for the inlet area to be relatively wide and shallow, which hi easier Loa chic we with m u 1 ti ple ducts, One eyewitness to Anrora de" scribed :i t as havin g "O'l.!'. evil S I'r"I il e,'y f~\c(:)" ltndfilmC~l th,

Professor Paul Cl,.y,sz, who studied REce engine:"! f(w hype!'£HHl!ir:: a:il'Cl'aft .(I~; McDoiilli':ldl Dougl.afil~ Sf:LjlH that the:~r performance ],60 remarkable. A hyperMnic !"!it~ra[t, with ~(Hnbi:il,ed-c'yd~, engines ~'$l:r'(H:l fO'F flight, wi]! have thrust ®t]Utd to its fully ]oadml weigl1.t on takeoff and in the climb, when the engines 1)Jre~n their l'ocket mode. With high t~WU!!it and low drag, ~th~y go like scalded rabbits," he say~. A Ma.!·q_uar·dtpa.pel', publIshed in HJ7(~, describes a si mf arengi n e f,I~," :1 "supercharged e.1ectormIDJet" and e,!.'.sLltrs it with a thrust-to-weight ratio of· 2,5:I-twn-aml-a-half times that of tcday's best fighter engines.

Some idea of Lhe PQtc~·ttl.~tl of {hw~c engines can he gainedfrom lcokingat NASP, Blod(y. wide hl (~.I"{)s.:;;-,,;e.r~l.lfm, mid almost wmgless, NASP could nut he described as aerodynamically perf~ct [m' Hu.l Maeh 0-2 r{~gimG. H weighs at least :350,(W{l pounds ~lt tak.eotT; and its body dwarfs the l'nmjet modl:~]f~inlet-<j,. Yet, those engines enough power t.o propel NASP to Mach 3.

In its c.Iu.cted rccket 1[10013, an RBCCengi ne wm be unbeJ.~evabiy twj;~y. The mu]tiplc, !Sm!lllr()(,:]t{~~ noszles, \ViiUl a velocity ofmany thousands of' j"O(.)1, per Btlr;mnd, W ~n be ffl.hdng !.n th.e ducts w]th :jJJuwurnirflow through the inlets, and the total exhaust will mix with t,h® 'olJt!illd~ air, The pr{'jceFOswill gCI"H:1:r',ate nUlse efficiently at many .~re-


ChapleT Three

Remarkab(1f' this NAFJA study tons pub·· [ish-luI (oItl'f.! i'iHH1 th t.l.fI~I· ttl {l l\t.r}l'~'L .;;;:<I1C1 si:ghJi.I'l:g waS' fRrst puMiciud. It 1:,~ higgu !:h(M~ tlw Ar.u"ora dl'slgn-it. is dcsigl!f!d as a sirik« uirt:ra{t with (l 7Q; ()OO-polwd

quencies, which will interact with nne an!)th~I·., Add the factthat the engines could be pushing out almor;l; as much thrm,t as a 747'9 enginel';;, and it is. easy to seewhy Aumrt!,'\::otl'ncls like the sky being ripped open, "

Unlike many ramjet-basud propul~i:O!JI schemes, the combined-cycle engine works reasonably 'i. ... ell even. in le .. '~lflight nt subsonie f:ptl"'(]r:>-when the aircraft is refueling in flight fhii instance. In that mode" it is abo 1[.1 I.. as. efficienj rI:ti a J960.s te·chnnJ~I~Y roilitary turbofan,


soeopan lO(id-{w(i Wl',('S o!}er-mul-ur~du ,1)r.u")lll'twIJets rether ih en lighter com.bimu:l.,cyr:.ll! fmgiil[!/3, UO'W(!'lJf?l", J:1~p-. ,o;imUadf;i(!~ a.1'1'! .~t.l"iMl!g, NASA

There are <I number of good re agnus \vhy those engineswork so well. Accurdjng to Dr, Fred Billil4" at th Ap~ plied Physics Laboratory QfJohns Ho~kill~ Un'i\i'c.m,;Hy, \o"hlch experlmented with than in the 19608, one of l,]w attractive featuH"CS of the combined-cycle f!ngin~1 J"iJ that it del!iv{Jr's high j,hrustper unit of [I'CHI!;,;;ll area , which, in the tl'ili..nS!~lnit' reulm, "115 more important than many people think." This is because it does IWt. run as a pure i"1lnljct until it i1'i fl'1rr'iO~t ~lt its cruising speed; at take otT, it is a ducted

The Hypersonic Rev(.t:hltion

~'ncket, and it then transitions seamleSliI]y-without any mode Ol' shape chunges--dnto a supercharged r.).mjet

The turbo-comnressoe section of the .RBCC iefundamentally different fr(lm a turbojet heeause the compresS or~~lIl dt;ud)1 ne arai n separate ga!'!, streams" In a turbojet, the air that has baen.erunpresaed in the inlet and th.e compressor is extrelne]y hot at high. speeds, so Uta t the CIlf;,oJnc has to be tI.':i~\()ttledbac;k to l~oop turb~M temperatureswithin Hmits. This does not hnppen in tile combined-eyele engine, ::;0 the turbo·oumpre~::::or can runto its maximum capacity throughout the speed range. A1.~(')~ th~(;;1lp~dty of the compressor can be increased by using ]iquid methane tceool and! densl fy the air that enters thie inlet.

Above all, however, the 9nglnn hi r~l()v~!.·!ng (In():rgy that mod sytilbcffi.S thT()W~way" By H,sing methane to cool the structure, the enginas, and the systems, the eombmedcycle engine ccnverts the heat gener-


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,Inlillghl 18fuilling ~Iipwa'r'

Mai~a.V:lOniQS !Jar

A1t·I'~lltl;i;tlng 1I'I!)9ce !fmd111,g gffo;!Jl Turbc-cemprassur inJ'€!t!> (eI[]seailt hgliJ!ip2edG~ In!ogFtlI Mi!Iio:~ !or Im~~hM()~nd LOX

T uiOO -<Alitlp:esoo IS

M::J.ln ~noino iini(l!(J

M:tilhfll1A:i iniow;tm slirUi.

robin !'<I:!'iding g@~r

MoItKlr~ili!<lirILOX noo2l1i:M;

M0L1li:lM lUrbin~

5all;llllti;O gOrl1I~LI!Ifl~llon~ ~:llr~~nrl'41 E:.JI~!Jst nilzzles.

A!LmbDt;!~ tw.u1 ~lt!!~~

Ver1i(;fl1 ~lns


l'Iotati1'g \Oiing-tip ~

a.tedl by ail'fricti.rm into meehaniesl energy (through the methane tnrbine) and then uses jt to supercharge Hl.[;'l ramjet, generating additiunal thrust.


Chapter Three

In. .19.86, j\frJDomwU lJorlg,{a,,, pnmo15cd n 30l5·p.fMllumgl:!r lIfm:h 5 airliner. [)~'signf!d prim>lll'i,{;v fa]' lhrJ fii~t'MrCJwi;r,t,il air f'()!~l~S od!l[!een. the US ami A~ia .• it became knoum.

as the OrilJllt Exprn.';;ir;=a !HIm' later mi«. (rppU~d IQ NASP f))' an t),flCl'-~nt!w.tiQ.stit:

PN~;~id~ ')'J'j iotrl i;!p~~r.Jt ti,.'i""il~I'·. '[I"Vc [)un nel ~ D~:I~1.glas


The efftd i3 <JJ substantial hOQ~t in lSp ~le;l'o~s th~ i;;):nUl'c8~.~e~cll;ac~lg[fi,

In this respect, Al'u·om. works e;J{at;L1y Iike Worhl War H' flgh tun; sueb 1:Q1J,thG P-M, in which thG (l'nf"tj_n~ radieLor was placed in an aerodynamic duel. th~tt ftmdimwd as j;~ I'!tmJoot and, ut high specde, allegedly produced enough thrust to offset most of the dn;Jig of the cooling system,

The RBCC i:::;-far fn)m the only ertgiue eencept 1.10 have been studied :fo·l' the zerc-ta-hypersonic mission .. The aiI',tudxH'arujet (ATR) Or' tuthO-ll)cket dr:lt~~ back hi 194,9PlJwn,ls u·l1id t~v~r· SiOB of the concept, -the Pratt & Whitney PW~~Ol.i"was designed and hum-Itll.' ~h(,:. L(J(;kh{~ed CL·400 ':')lJyplnm}, T1iI(:o A'l'R resembles an afterburniug turbof.un, e~";oC~pLthtJ.t th~ Lurhi!l[l UmL drives theIan runs on hot, llnburnthydrcgen or methane rather than air, (Japan's IHI Heavy Indnstriea Is testing an AmJ In an these engines, the f!U'l h; allewudtu wind m in ;,~L h'!gh speeds, 8'0 the fasterthe aircraft goes, the mm.'€! it behaves like a ramjet ..

More recenUy ,Pt'~:rU, &; Wh iLimy has designed a refined version of the A'l'I:t, the twl n-spacl hydrogen expander (TSHE) engine, which dispenscs with the complex heat exchanger. Alloth(1l)' il'lU"]guitlg ~:llgiI1G devised by them is the rocket ram, which Is haser] on IJm oldest kTl~)wTl dcs~gn !bl' .~ heat ~rlgi:n'~): the steam turbine devised by HeJJ:o ofAl.exandrla in AD 75,. It is simU"u~ to Ui~ i\~:H il.'¥x~rt th .... .t thor~ is nn I:urhine, and thB fan~8 driven 'I)),' tiny mclet nozzles in the blade tips,

'I'here is achance that scme other variation on the many zero-to-hypersonic {;,'Ycltl!:; has been dcvclal}tld and !le" lected fur Aurora, A Pratt & Whitney engineer who presented ap<'Ipel'· on n,he TSRE and th.[li\~(!k~~j; frnl :Jt a I !)S6 OOtl· ference added a gnomic and perhaps

Th» Hyp~!rsrmic' Revuiut.icm

significan t comment: "In the ('Ql1 rso of Uti:!! wOl'k, ~\i~9the~!' i:nhw@~hlil.g cye1® came up---hut that's another f',Ll1ty."

On ba La.I! GC. th ou gh, th C so!Jcrot;y that surrounds NASP's ,sng]n,s, the fatt that it is p.arUy ill ducted r'c)(:·k:et; and tho AWI'DrEt nolse r~pmt",;, ull pOint toward an RBOO solution for both NABPand AU1'OI'a, with l:toc,k.etdy:ne, M.arquanU,::l.tlxlPr:;J:U &; \i1lhHm'i'Y as the leading candidate contractors. -

Propulsion and thermal manage, ment are probably the tQl]gil.est challenges inptodu.dr!_g a hype:rS(ln.ka1t. C]'~lft., A~Ii'tl]'ti'~ ~~nu;tt'lll''Cmay nnt be tt~ hard to design and build as tli.e A-12 was in its d.ay, Modern W,nn~U!11 aUoyf.1 wuuldbc adequate fur mest efthe surface and for the aubstmctuee,

T h rn ~~.g'h{) u l.i LI':!. .('! n r] y dl,\1 fi n i U on ~'il:!, NASP was E;u{pe,cood l.(l use new high-tempC:!!fHtnm titanium-based rnaterials called "intermetalliea" lb:rmost of Hs structure. In early 1992 ,howev~ o r, tho N ASP ofllee fuiU id th Ii~ t; n con VCl:t1- ticrsal titanjl.lm aUoy-Bl3ta~21Swould he adequate, aw:.I. was already availablein pl'f,ducUon qunntities, No known aircraft USGS Beta-21S.

Since the 811,. '7i clays, mnre gteat strides havebeen made in ttJ~highly heat·-re,sistant materials that are needed rot th~ parts ()fth~ vG!~ic!a th{lt see stagnation temperatures in the realm f)]' thousands or {iug:rc}()s. Lockh ccd' s experirnen tal hypersonie-gli de vehicle used. reinforced carbon-carbon {ROC} ~(]HW(l~it~!':, t)an..,.i~Ung of clubor! fiilH~r:::; in :;i carbon mat,"jx:, f(_riI .. med under heat and pressure, ami. capable of withstanding Len1,pef:l'ltul'f!s as high as a,OO(~ J!,egj'\e;l~s. Fo;;hrenhcit without cooling', 'rhcf:le. could be used fur the leadin,EJ: edges of the wings and inlet, and 1'01' the rear' undicroody.,

Allt',)J',,'f:j ~titfl:'tlltiH': Jrdgllt well in· corporate some stealth te chnology, It


Chapter Three

'The x-~m NASP d.iffers {I'om Aurora (met ~)~he:1" h.V1)I!I'/:i{m.ics in It,a.r;oing .1). bnxui(fl' for-

lJ!m'd (w; im;I'«asint' clITIa but prnlJi,rling morethrust lor aeceleraiion. USAF

does not need it [,0 survive, but reduced frontal radar e roas-sectfon (ReS} might help it to achieve surprise, CI~urly, A1.U'OI.'11 .is g(ling to have an infrared (IR) signatore like the rising sun, But most defensive fly_stems do not make ~;ISC of long-range TH detecto tfl because unl es!> they are airh'!')np,. th.ClY are useless in cloudy wcuther, If d€Rigncrf:) did decide 1:.0 I'[]" duee ReS, 'I:hey could. use Hie radarabsorbent material mAM) developed by Lockheed for the F·2Z;s exhaust. i:lysoom, which if:; based on a eerumiematrix composite material.

Like the SH- 71, Al,lrQf a probably has .. crew of LWi,: pilot and reeonnnissance system ~ operator mBO)_ Flying AUTOI'H will he qU!.ilf" unlike flying a conventional aireraft, There win be liHtle, if any, outsidc .... iew because a IlOI"-


mal windshield eauses too milch drklg and g'ats tee hot,

Them are a number of solutions to the 'visi.on problem, Ful]y synthetuc vi·, sicn, relying on sensors to provide a rI'V-tj'r.I(~ picture to the pilot, is distl'Usl,~d by' pi.lOt8 but if;. eonsid(~I"Cd for the next-generation civil .8;1(1- personic transport. Unlike the Concorde, that ~\ir()raf't would not have an a rticula te d d roo P - S n (lot nos e, so i t w{)'l.dd l'@ly completely (In ,~ynUHJHc vi." sion or automatic landing. A more CORservatlve but heavier solution would be a retractable will!.dJj;hie~d and ulevating pilot'$'; seat and .contrQls.

in the eruisa, at. more than tI mile per second, vision 1.$ irrelevant, By 1;h~ time the human eye can sec sometb i ng', it i!jj too ,Ia.tfl' to do- uiythlng about it, Instead, the pilot will he <'i

The H.'fpersonic Revolution



M,AIN lANnl~(;jG E,AR

lntru'nml !Jif1w oj' Nu~ X.,50 ",hQwf!; tJud i.t i.~ put ttJpdftGT unlikl1 Q', c:rmuf?ntinnai air'plane, with mm:h oj' it'S strength in iarg«,

mission manager, menitoring the air, (Jraft and its sJ'Ah11l'lS and f6]1owing th·e course of the flight on large-format cathoderay Lube (CltT) dispi:£ly.~" 1jh~ pilot's most Important [unetinn wm be to eope with the unexpected: differ~M'),C~S in 1!:~pp~r'·~it· t~nlper~tlJ,!"~,! weather over the target area Or the refucHng"orlc, or problems with the 8ySterns, for example,

The RSO will supervise a battery of fl:~l1~~Wii.. 'The!HQst. br~~)Ortjl!H could be a syn~Ju)tit:··~.ped"Ul"(~ radar (SAR). ,'j 1O']d~-lonldng- r~ada:' that i~kes--~-,~e'-

quence of snapshots of the tailil'el as d;he aircruft moves, (i!nd compiles them into t1 si.ngle l'Hdm.' image which is as sharp as it would be if it were acquired using ,,~n antenna hundreds of feet wjd~. The bCi;t SAR jllli a g·o;,:; .U'I; classined, hut have been described as "near-

light, h?JlgHi.r.l;d.$e webs {lm~r.hed 1.(1 (l single Cmi~$· ru.I.,tkhp.(~,d with th« lrmdlllg ,.glmr mounts:

ph etegraphie," aJlnwing diITel\(':ut: ty(}f:~$ of vctlichl'~ n::mk~ VI' tl'~](,:ks, fur instance) to be distinguishedeasily from rl'lCn't'l than HH.1 fl1[le:;; fiWi'I.'y :r~g'iln:n('l~~ or ,cloudSQ]'&mol.o.

in. dear weather, Aurora would IJ~O(! dayl~ght :'lnd infraredc;llrner.a!': for n~tr:l"{l~~taliled work Thanh to satellito programs, el ectrondc cameras using charge-coupled device (GOD) arrays now ach ieve equi valent resolui.i,on to u 1 ~n:~~fi nc-grui n reC'Drltlt1i.!!isnnc() 'film; CCDs also have some ability to work in low Iight h:!i\!',eis.. A phasedarr ayantenna built ]tHo AU1'Qt'(fs upper surface.-near the rear erid, whersheat £mdioniZ""tiQ~l would b~ at 31. m~.nimum-wnuld al~(lwil. to transmit real-time or near-real-time imag~ry to the- Pentagou'ssatelltte network.

Chapter Three

NilS? il> designed to g(1 (dl J)J;(! WUJ' into rwhU, inu rumih1~' lrHi'l~l.~ {~:f'~j ,"tUt;h that f.~ ma.y' rlP.f;W· fly at all. USAF


'l'hi'", is nota pil.Qt(l;l;ILJph but an imag;r. flCqui,r~!(_t by a s"'jm#tetie.aJJ~I·t,rw{!_ J'(ul,rn:_ Thf! radur used h~re, a L(Jrai UPiJ-8, iM (l groll,· er«#Qn or two oldt:r than dH~ high~-l'e~O[~t-

On the ground, the digitized im[l,g~t'.Y i~ l€id into, ~ H1<l~hln(!j i,hat uses a laser b) print the imagery on tofihu, with results that are indistlnguishable, eveu by ex p erts, fro In I) rj,g in;;l] ri] m loaded directly into the camera. Film is used £OJ' the final Ou.tPi!I~ blJ~~~I£i'¢ d~¢::;.~ cameras gather data at such a rapid

don H,f.l{~lw.1J and l;(lrU;l SAIl.,,; ((/Jcd in tlw $R-71 (md U-2!" but all irfwg!tl), ItlJl'fr tlw~~ radnr« is highlydrJ~:;mlJd. Loral

1',(3,h>., ~h::ll, I_l~(ey "'1m qv~;ddy swamp even thu VtWC ~~cdj'(.\jiic.; "jul~c,-l;Uli{" ~m@!~\(I!'i{)~ used by the intelligence COIl1JI{luni1.y_lin Iaet, ALlmr,,1!. txmld afret" an operational ad YO;lnl;:Jj;,"~ OWl' s,Itdlit<u1:l in. that it can use film. as an altematlveto CCDt:;_

On'!:! th~!1g i~ eersain: vary HW.~' in Aurora's d evel cpment will have been


Chapter Three

easy. Former Lockheed chief engineer CI.a:r.(HHHl "Hally" J,t.lhns:otl once rec<~ ned: "I offered. £1.$50 reward. to anyone who could li.nd anything that was easy, Sameenc carne up with u marker that could mark part numbers on titanium, It W(}t'tu~d WClU-but then the part number fen right out of the part," Them ar ker contained a small quantity t~f chlQrine, whicih hi death to ~t~tllni· um, Later, il C(ll:)t the Air Force $1 million ttl develop a paint Ibt thu US,A.F stars-end-bars insignla which did not turn brown the first Mach :3 Hight,

Ljke the A-12 and other highspeed aircraft, Aurora w]11 have presented! cnf.llUenj..,"C::; ill thermal managument, high-speed propulsion efficiency, und the dlii'~.ign ofunique ;subf.lY~terns and COin poncnts to operate ,;It high temper-atures. If H. does use weupuns, or if it is d(~i!li:gncd so that ~~. can be adapted to launch weapons, new weapnn release concepts win be' ner:eSR;)Jry, Some kind of rigidly uncap!$ulawd ejection seat wm he necessary if safe ejection iarequired th i'cmgh most of the flight envelope.

Some diElCLISSI.UTl '01' Aurora's relationship ito NARP~ particularly outside the program, has assumed that N ASP is Ji eovur for Aurora 01' n conChl.itlbr white-world mater-ials work into lh(:] I~l"(')og!'am, In some ways , howe v er, NASP can be sen ::lH an extrnpolnticn of I\urora, which got under way as the results M o('mdy AunH'.a work beg~n to emerge.

Many of NAB.P's key features represent one signiflcnnt step beyond Aurora. NASP uses a more exotic, higher~)m1t'gY' fuel: slush hydnJgcl1 rather Unm methane, Auroru,with its tapered, pointed nose, is a cl'U.lise.--th!3: shape is ft (;Ol~llH\Q!H~,flG!' l)(l!,wcmj -cit'ag

and inlet efficiency, NASP',s spatula nose creates m(H'I'~ drag and weighs more, but it looks more like what it is, an inlet t(~mp, because NASlP does not cruise in thlJ atmosphere but ,cOnshi.!lt]y accelerates. NASP uses <I shnihi.r engine to Aurora, but acids a supersonic ccmhustitrn ramjet (seramjet) mode for ~POOd5 above Mach 8, and a rocket for t:he l1nal lid ek 'in to orhit.

NASP is de-signed tOi'l~-el'll;I:!r the atmospherewi th most n!' its fitl,e] gone, so a makes little US€~ of uetive cooling and requiresa better thermal protect!o·n $ytsicm ('1.'.P8) \i,".h;"h ~ulds weight, To, keep the rest of 1.;h[;1 structure as light as possih]e, it. uses titauium-matrix co m pos'it.cs r~ltJl~J' than menol ~th1,t: titanium ..

'('he USAFj~ NASP pregrae; di 11(lCtor ,Dr. Rob~Tt R" Barthelemy, {locos Mt confirm these links, but does not ~XllCt,]y denv them ~iI;hol', As !l!i)' said in a late'] 992" interview: "It's INASP]lr1. volved a lot of people, and we've been very serious about what WC'YS been dcmg,"

"But,' he continued, "we've C01"tajnly developed n capabihties that might; tight now' for all 1 know., be being used by all kinds of commt,m]. ties, And there may al so be some spinoff from. some earlier work that'sfound its way into our activity."

Aurora is not justa. SoIpyphne. His a \',1,)1')' important !'I,loi:!lppifi~-ii!tQne toward re al access to space, the kind 0 F access ~haL NASA's civH.:H'::I"vk{l llfors promised from the shuttle bul~ failed to' deliver. Unf'odul'l~ltclv. one factor ub Oli',lr) al ~ IH'QVmrl!; Aurol,'a'::; po I,('! Ill; ul from being- exploited and prevents rts h·uu lmportance From being recngnized.

The US government S[~ys that it (lclm.n't {l>.:iiil'~,

Chapter 4

Thle Price of Dental

Wlle'lli you. have e1iminat@d tha ilnllO:9si.b~e~ wh!:llt-ever ~'emahlis" however improbable, must be the truth.

~ConS!n Doyle, A Study in Scarlet.

Faced with clear evidence that Aurora exists, in the Ilm:n of a 1>igh Ling by a highly qualifled witness plus ill .stream of other reports, the US Air FOI'«~ h a~ cOflt'in'u-ed to deny thnl AlU'OI'j} ii! t'lwl

"I'he Air Force has no such program, .. and if such a program exist. ed elsuwhcre, I'd know about. it-and I dI.QR't:" stormed Bush admimstration USAF Secretary Donald B, Ric~ in tI letter to the Washington PMl ill Decomber ]992" "The Air P'(m;c hus no aircraft oruircraft [,)i'uJP:'tHn even reo mot.ely similar to the capabilities being'~il:d to 'Aunln~/" he COfI· tinned, adding thai: "the Air Force 1<18 never created cover stories to protect an)' PI'01tl'Um or vehicle Uke AIU··(H"~),,~

.Rice's denial followed a series of documented ehservatkms po.inting to a secret, hlgh·sptlcd aircraft program. As well as the North Sea sight.i(lg, there W~I"O the A,oia.f:iDn Wc-e/1,I.'cpm.'Cs and the California booms, There was the lack of controversy ove~.· Lht1 SR~'71 retirement end the upward-spirultng size of the b!ad~ budget

Not everybody can hs .right, and there area number of h,)" potli eses con-

cen~ing .wh~t lui~hL aC1.m)l~y be hap .. penmg .111 the skiesever thC:l Url1ted States, R~{!{ls comments suggest that there are no classified, h.lghly superSQnm.c ain;:rtlfL in. meu. If thnt is the cage, then ~1~1 the eyewitness obscl· ... atlons are wildly inaccurate. In the CUf:J€: of the N orth Sea 8 igh I.,j ng, U10 only possible eX:I)lanat]on is that the stnry wus lUI. intentional fahrication-« an exphmation that nobody who ha::: talked to the witness ean easilycredit, 'I'his h>'(mthOI:ii.s dues notaddress the, sonic booms. It requires 3J1l alternative explauatton 11)[' I.h~ level of ncti\,rity at Lake, and the noncentroversial retil'cment ofthe SR-71.

Altc rn at] vi;1l1y" seere I, 5 U JW rson i e aircratt may exist but be very different ['IIDIli Ut(l [.YI)U; of system described in this. buul";'''''i th different mi SS:i.o115 3. nil eharacteristics; or they mri)' not be opeT~tiolil'lil. T'hi~ hypothesis covers the Celifomiabuems and the activity .~1; Groom Lake. But it, has a fatal flaw:

Rice T,!; de n l a 1 q u iI,i:! cl !}url;y eovcrs all such programa

Elected officials who would know about Aurora have d(~fUy avoided talk-

Clwplru' Pour

E(~rly in 1993,. Aerospace Doily de8t~ri.bed a :-!~uil'~l 1"t!()(jnna[,.!I;\i·c~1te.r~ aip~;J'f!.[t p/"ojiJf...'t tho: lmd aU('!Jedly been rXi1lc~lecl in .1986' .. .fl."!. dr~n,{~i''iJjtifJn of C~ B -l-eired, M(1!~h t5 air-

ing about it, 1 asked Sen. Sam Nunn, chairman of the Sannte Armed 12kr r · vices Cornm~ttee f.SASC), about the Culifol'fblH booms at a press c(Jnlcrm'lt.'C in Dayton, Ohio" in the ~lJrI1nHH' of 1992_' AIHfI present was Sen. John Glenn fro,m Ohio, who is U senior member of the Senate Intcl ligenca Cemmluee.

Senai:c_n- Nunn is briefed on classified military collection program!;, Ineluding ullnclm()w]c~c:]gud 3AP~ (Spe' eial Access Program S). N ormally, t h.e fu'll SASe and Intefllgence enmmtttees-e-includiug Senator Glenn-c-aru given. the same lwi{,

But Steven Aftcl'goQd, who ~dil!'; the Secrecv and Gover'lw'U,;nt Bulletin for the j"edel'alion of AmCI'k:,m Scientists has i1:1POI'hld UiC' ixistance of a subset of SAPs called "waived programs," in ""hie·h t:hUHtlCl'ctHI'Y of defense waives tht~n~quirC'mc!lt 00 notifY

era/'!: was crddly rr>:miid8'C€!1.f of this LodzJ',"-'f!a ar#ili'~ ~mp"~l~,<;'hnl., !'l:h~CIIY.:(l In 1981, Loekheed

the full committees, and briefs only the chareporaon and senior ll'illtOrity member ef each committee. If U~e hY· personle aireraft It-i a waived l:lrogram,. Nun n wou 1 d be b riefed on it and Gl(mn would not.

Nunn's l'~!'lp(ln!'le to the question was to refer it immediately to GLenn, without. expressly declining to eommont. Ghmn declined to COIlHllE!nL

Meanwhile, the USAF, through its puhli(! uffu j,n; offiees, has attQ;rnpt~cl to-Vis they put it-~dHbl1nk" reports of' high-speed aii'Cl'a.I'L Gt'ln. Walter Hogle, chief of' USAF public affairs, even suggestedthat the unidentified ui1"cl'n:ft might have bean ,'I Rny.ulAur Force Vulcan bomher, which is not only incapable of l"CflHJHng from 9J .KC- 135 but t:j almost us big as the tankar, with a three-times-greater wingspan than the unj(l·cnl:ificd aircraft. Chris Gibson, an {!xpcrt in aircraft recognl-

tion, responds scornfully: "A Vulcan'? I thi nk T leurncd that cne when I wae three years old.'

'l'hB service's official response to the Nor~h Srt!u sighting isthat the report "wUI, probably remain unchallenged, si:mply buc;:IU:=.e t~h~r,~ if$ nol; enoughi n forma tion avail aN{~ t:u even h,);r,unl <I l-,'11ess."

But the l'epnrt~"j;~!l'ublished Ji1 the British magazine Jane':~ Defence ~'!(I~:kl.y-im:l~!dcs the pr(i;d~~ location or the August :1.989 sighting. Gibson does. not recall the precise date, but. says that H, wuselcse to midday, und thai, th c cloudcover was thin and lriigh, a. faci.ol.· whieh would iHi1'l"OW down the ch (ri(:c of dates,

nUJ magazine :a[:;:;(l said that the aircruft was rel~ueHl1g fi'Q'i'i,'i. a KC-135 tanker and was accompanied by ~;wo

The Price of Drmio.l

F-1H bombers, The USA.F has only two F-l.LL units tIl "II:Lu'ope, and a single wing of tankers,

A v:i~ Uon and the mili tary 3J !'t\ both IlIl1.nri-ou::; for their obsessional recordkeeping, but General Hogle said in J~n'!J,~Oi!~"Y 199B thllt he did 1'i(J~ know 'U' the USAF 'has attempted I.n determine which Ke-iS 551 and F -1115 used j\ARA (Air"to-Ai.r Refueling A:re~) 6A during August 1989, Certaiuly, no Air ]!'nn::(J lnveselgntor lW8 r~ontac;wd Chris O]oson, or anyone elseinvolvedwith the S.tOI', , ill an effort to narrow dOWl1 t;hG! dates of th.c event,

The question of ta n ker support brings 1!Up another ofthe many anornaljes in USAF statements i1:;L;i~; to reconnaissance ,-·!"in:raft,. 1n 1992; Sh'atcgic: Ail" Cormnand and 'rrH;ti.~nl Air Co-mmand were mergedinto Air

JI'iprm '{ii AdrJr:un~l S:;;fJCfJ Plan« (/!;/f;W) J)N}· jed is one ol a rw;mber of'reusable l(liU!(:h-

.f'tf1 .rmd'/" .'if:miy umrif'lwidi'l. S!i (m', emr..')! fig tests houe been Bill Sweetman


Gel"man.)!'» Sall#(tl'pnJl)Q's(.d ;~ t~ ~HWy l(l:rgr. ftllo-stagesYiii.'(!ii'l, riAt.h a mdu!t-powl?red 01-biter mounted em {f 1l'.rWi(HI-pmmd, M'ue/!. (J~

Combat Cowmand (ACe); and, at the same time, most of their' tankers were transferred to Air Mabilit.y Comm,ul d!. Al rnos I., i.he! nnl.y exesptiens were ~.~ few tanker ,m"i1;$ eo-located with bomber wings or the newly f{)rmed(~ol'ltp(]\f.\i.t(~ wings,

One t .. mker unit does not fit the pattern. The ~}th Wing at, B.flal(! AFB in California still operates l~hlJ Kr:· 135Q t~m kel;$ that were speeially mod:il'i€d ttl ~'i.rpporl, the A·12 an d I.h SR· 7l.


l'ti,fi!:lI'!f;·'.l'ed lauuaher. D~t!ltiM:h(1 Acrospace

At a conference lnea.dy 1993; Gen.

Ronald .FoJ~c]mun~l;{)mrJiHHbdtH of AMC; remarked the KG-l::15Qs "belong to Mik(,ll.,oh lAce commander Gen. JohnM. T..A)h] tight now, because they're tied up in support of tllE'l 1]·2 program,"

This statement is inaccurate, beeausetae U·.2.Ecannot be refuelled in flight. If the KC-135Q!> do not support U-.2Rs, what do they support! And why doss the commandm' of AMC, who has overall. responsibility for tanker train-

ingand support, not know the right ilt1IjWCr wth~t q'LUlStjO'rl?

The Ai.t FOl'ce· has alsocast doubt enthe selsmographie evidence collected sinee June 1991 by the: US Geologi~ cal Survey (USGS). Under contract to the USAF, M~i~s.uchitl::;~Ufi Instltuto ,of Technolot.'Y"s Lincoln La})()ir,:ihrry ana~yzcd one of these readings and eondudied that :it was 'C!;1.1:,]l!(;).Q. by a Navy fighter on ;:UI air defense flight- test mlssien,

This does not explain repeated readings frorn sensors more than eighty miles mland, unless pHo·t!:; have been routinely violating the han on 8.\1= personlc flight over m~t,I'opo1itan areas. The USAF Flight Te~t Center states that the boom carpet of an air.CI"'.)ft <It 50,0000 feQt extends only Lweflty.fivc miles on either side of the mght path. Booms have been known to propagate over greater d18t"mce~but only under un usual conditions, when produced by Ilu'g'C! f,h:er~ft at high Illtihld,(~s,

Another gtr'3JI~gC rnconsisteney is 'that the Air Force is. first statement on the mystericus sonic booms lin Californi u referred to an an alysis of' jus.t one of th~ bMm~vcntlil, which allegedly matched the boom with the tl"Mk, of "a Navyfighter parti(i:ipatin,g' in an air defense flight-test mission:' Inita Iater statements" the Air Force clajms to have llnked nU the CaUfomia boom events to Navy sertles.

Air Force denials cut no ice with re:8e~I'Chers i:n the N\ilthot'IIlUds, who have investigated a sonic boom heard 0'\101" HoUllnd on August 19, 1992 ... The boom caused property damage an d prompted questions fromthe Dutch 1)lu·]'ia.m~ntoo the .Mhl'is!,I"Y of ])cf¢noo., which found nnretord of supersonic movemen tsln Dutch airspace.

Acc;ording to Hein W. Haak of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological In-

sti tute, the s]gna~ "dlifrers in many aspects" Irom earthquakesvand 1:!H!I{.!1i'· bles a simple chemical explosion in the atmosphere. Hewever, thore is no record of any i n cidcnt~h,Eil.t 'would cause such ,rn explosion.

Rucol"d~ of/the b()om,!:ICtlU5Cd by sm:)Her ~ircraft such as MiG-29 and MiG-Hi fighters have also been. studied, but theae EU'{) too small to cause u substantial boom while remaining outside Dutch airspace, aeeordtneto one {)f the researchers.

The Dutch team also investig.atcd the P()s0'3.i.bHjt,y that the boom could have boon caused by re-entering space debris or a metoorrte but concluded thatthe former would nothave preduced so intense a shock, while a meteQr~t~ .1~Tg~ enough to cause sucb tt boom would have produced a Iir(~h~lU as hr'lght as the new monn, Their conclusion: the boom was rrrodueed by an umdentifled supersonic aircraft ov-er the Ncwth ~Qa.

Another sonic boom was detected (lver Los AngeJes on November 17, 1993, A CliI:ITech researcher promptly cheeked with all the military bases in the nrea operating fo\upenmnic aircraft, from China Lake south to Miramar NAS, San Diego. None had any supersoni.C!iHirt.~C$ in. thi,'$ I:eg!on nl the time,

I Lis Til ot surprisi ng UHI. t boom report~ are confined to t.he vicinity o:!'the North Sea and Califurma. Studies suggest that a hypersonic aircraft, eruisjug above- 100,000 f~o@1,., wuul d not cause ~I perceptive sea-level boom. On l,ukeo:l:T, a . hypersonic aircraft will climb steeply tu its cruising r-:I.IUI.l.ldu, keeping the boom confined to a relaUvoly small area,

On descent, a km~, gradual deeeleration within a narrow speed-andheight l~('il;I'~dC31' is eritieal I:tj maxintiae range and payload and keep the air-


Clutpl~'r Four

{Taft withiinib5 t;h(H'mal and structural limila, Therefore, the boom is mm;t Hl.~~Iy to he heard during descent tol anding-cW'l)t' Caltfornla or Nevadia-oroo <it refueling- rendesvoua, .• 18 'over the North Se,a.

Tho diffitm~Ly of pinning: down !l specific track for th~ boomer could be a ttributable to a phenomenon called! a "secondary bonm," \Vbcm the Cencorda supersonic transport entered serviee, it was found that the sonic beem [I'oln f1J. large fl]l'Craft above 60,000 feet could be l't~fl'ad,ed in th{~ upper "I;m~)sph(lr'e find Gt~1,;L~C n {l~!;itlll'b.H1H;C many tensof miles from its sou rca. (Secondary bnoms, hnw,f!vtW, hnve ['101". been <If'Of.lod· ated with~muT] aircraft utflghwr.Jjlkc alti tudes.)

'file US Ait'f'.(H"ce'~cr!:!dibil:it.Y is furl;her llndennitled by the fod th~iI1~ the Department of Defense explicitly authnrizea the diasemination of misleading InfbrrnaUon in order to' pt'()i,(lcl; clussifiud pl'ogmtl1:-o, In a 5tlppkm1Jen~ to the Narional ludustrialBecurfty Program manual, 1.'eJeased in rha.n ~Il'mirl March 199'2. ~Jn~ DoD told con· tracters how to draitoovE:1" storiesthat "must be i)eHevable and cannot reveal any ~nformntuon n~gatding Uw. true nature ·of theeon traet, ~

Steven Allergood, of the Federa~;inrl of American Scientists, commen ts:

"Oncewe know that the DoD pracLicm5 this kind of deception, itbeoCQmes harder to discern what's for real and whfltii'i n(ll..~

\Vh (i t could welll be SlI e h <!~ ~::OV{W story emerged in early .1.993, when unidentltied Pentagon and industry seurces told trade BCWs.1eU~;r AerosptJ,(:f! IJt~~t.)' thnt aW·p.liicC;:l'~t Auroratype project did exist, but was canceled about ] 986 art!!?I' (I,n'lly di!"awungs Hilla "small liIli'lldC])J" had been made,

The canceled plane was to have a


speed of Mach ~5,hut, <l :SoOUI'l'C: t.old th(l!\~wslctt(H', "we; eouldn'tmuke it work," Trying to :~nake theplane's ramiet engines operate ,a~ high 15J)ocd was; ]iTI"J~ ~]ig11tUllg a match in a wind tunnel," another ~(Jmx:e said, "It's not !:LU C~,}!5:y thing 00 do, and it hasn't been done yet"

Hypersonicex.pert Paul Cz.ysz C"jJ]~ such statements nonsense, recalling that McDonnell Aircraft and J 01:1 ns Hopkins werelTIying Typhoutest velrieles at Mach 5 in 19GO, The match-ina-wind-tunnel analogy ~w:'isl]St)d III Uill\)! UI5()~., ~)Ilid ft Wt\:l;ll't V~I]ild tnen," says Czys~z. He recalls that, when he fb'iil~ htla!'d ~h,H e[lmp,H'i~H)ll U1'1tM1, '~I was hrlll'ninghyO.J:'lJJ'fCn at 7 ,000 f'{j{~t per second ~ in Iaboratery tests,

If the A,[!I"(JFI;!U~(~'!1 DaUy H!~)I''Y is eorred, moreover, the US guvenlIh('!nt t1l'st canceled one ail'cl'flil because its best engineers eould not makeram,ilets wOl'kplcoper]y ,I)t Mach!)-and, at the same H"i'ill,U, launc hoed a fuJI··!!!cnh.:. proje.ct to build a plane that would fly four timeS! as fast an taJ.mjlet power, The iN' ationaU A'CJ'Oiliipar;~~ Plane (NASP) was given President Reagan's blessing in l"ebt'lLLiI..I'Y ]986, wii.h the t1.ini or .l1ying :;1 pl'Oto tYPt) ,'llm the way in to orhit i n the early 19905.

'I'hei,dea that the USg(fV'~rnUlent maybe engagedin such "disinformation" (!rrcnt~ fbl,:UY be unp:uTIa~t.lJJk, but there m.'~ allteo many rmtSOUB why it is far h-om incredible, 'The use of cover s:tM les to t:on (J(,]I1,1 j,11 i.'i A·12, dese t'i h(l!(J in the introduction, j~ une example. Outside the defense world, the number of government oHioial.s who have been caught in <lt~cmpts to dC[)l~jV4J theil" SUo p~rriol'r;; 0'1.' GQ~rlg'l'~SS is st~lg'g'erjng-arld they m.'€: Ol11y the Cines who got caught,

~f'1'hc Sta~c Dep,al'~mellt on ly li~~d to me a couple of hundred times," ·I'~)· calls a former member of t.lil€ Bella te,

Oneil; he says, they did so when they n~It trapped: if thay \.'l,''efl'! fllooo with ~I direct question, a "no comment" was tantamrnmt Lu a confirmation. "At that p'()int~ Uil{~Y might as well announce it 1;.0 the press," he adds.

'rhoe COoS I, ~) r s Ud1 ~CtJ'·[,){l.y i.s m ~,:msured in dollars as well as in officiil1 ere di hility. Lockheed's B(~ ~'1 Ri eh estimates that 10~15 percent ofthe cost of a Special. Ac,L:t~sS P["OI,,'Tam is spent on ~~cl!.l.l"il,.J'. H .. gees fol' gp~()..ial secure rncilities, special procedures, the time that new hires 8ipend eooling their heels on full P::lY whllc: their dearmlcos are reviewed, and theextra cost of working at Groom Lako rather than Palmdale or Edw;)Jr.d~.

Addmi"!Secl opportunities to the price, There is a worldwide need fm' ~i space launch system to do wh<.llt the shuttle wac; l:luPpoSt-ii to do: provide regular aC(~ess ~:o space ~lt <til aftbl'd6b~e cost, A number of' OOU11bies are \Villk~ng on I;hc prOO]ernin dit: fCI'I:'~llt ·"'rtJt.ys,

Germany\; Deutsche Aerospace is invostj_gating' the S:;u~geI" vehicle, named after the visionary designer or the skip-bnmher, Sanger is a two-stage wi nj;,"Cd vehicle: ~. gi.~nt.. m i ~H on-pound, Mach 6ca.rri.el· aircn)ft. powered by turbn-ea mj ct cngmss, ,c8.l'ryu ng a smaller rocket-powered top ~'~f!~C. Sanger would prohnbly work, and would be quite n(l:'dblc, but the massive fir!il. s~~lgQ will he expensive.

British Aerospace (HAc) made a !'H)lm;,h in the e,ar~y ] 980s with its Horizontal. Take~Off and Landing (Im'l'OT ... ) vehicle. BAe based j ts original plans on the Roll!"l.Ruyc.;c RR515 engine, which was designed. to use liqU 1 d 11y{h'{lg~ n to cool :!'I.ll.d d~. I1Hl fy 11 cmospheric air in a heal, axeh anger. The high-pressure hydrogen fromthe heat exchanger drove a compressor that fed the air lto a rocketchamber ..

The PI'i ee of Den ial

Ant')thfw ,hlP'W"'~~ SIH!~"f!plmw PIY:ijjH~t. 1~ HOPE (H2' Plane), a 8o'UJOOpml11,1" W1ll ~lot.~d., n~W'ltb~e spac« ll'(oJ8" porter capable of {.'air~_g or retriening orbital pc(yioa.d,c;. T:{OWfiBfl kl

BAc Ci-:j)cctcd th~ 4-4·0,0(10 pound HOTOLto orbit a 15.00V pound payload RI'ter ta Idngofif from a trolley, Further studies showed that, BAc had been uptimisd.c about j,h-I:~ weiaht and effi.ciency 01' i.i'w !JT1ginc, and that th{~ pay]oad was i[i fact marginal.

MOl"fJ recently, BAe ha~ worked with the Ukraine's Antonov design hureau to develop a pure-rocket, a irIJ:l.l.ln~:h{)d vehicle weigh i ng some 500:,,(100 pounds, It woul d be curried to altitude by Antonov's monster An- 225-tl'IC! wm'ld'~ lal;g~$t f1iil·,m'nfl:" l'hc Arl-125 is a stretched, six-engine version of the An-Ul4 heavy em.'go transport, and wa:;; d'lJ":l]f{ned toe-any the Soviet Bucan space shut t]e. The airhl,undll:.~d HO',:['O.L is a !'~ii!LUvl'!~y lowrisk approach, bul. its sheer size-lthe eomplete vehicle weighs c~ose· 1.0, a mil- 1 i fin an d ahalfpoun C]~-i!:i d ai"m~ing,

,j apan's N! a 1.i(m a] Aero.spaceLaboratorv (N A l.)i:a studying a: ,!:'i ng]asl,a.g·(:;' Advanced Spa~erl!anf; which would use a I iquid-uir-eycle engi fie {L.ACE), im~ unl'ike the }IOTOL engine, for takeoff and acceleration to'


Chapter Fou.r

hypersonic speeds, and serami ... its from M:nc,h 6 toneai'-iH'bi tal s pe~,ds , It w01l1 d be f]lE;l le d hy slus hi by d fogen" The problem here is that LACE has always been eonsidereda high risk! and thceffi eiency of U] e, enti re densification and U.quefhctJon 'Pl'OCCS!ii is eriti" eal, T.he NAL has some Lll.GE demonsh;ation work. under way,

Til (;l US Na U onal A~rO\g'I}:;JiCePI a nEl sUB. looks [ike 11 strnng contender. It has the m01lt advanced technolugy and Iowest p . cted weight of [1[IY conCGpt-th ASP pt(lgrar'li (dfke sHU boH~\tes th d it e tn' b1i,l U d ~111i[) P ~ !'I;ltional NASP, with a. useful paylond, thutwdghs only 600,000 pounds. But its performance if:) dependent en scra.mjiete:!'fici.ency, which is imposslblo La dattlrmi,nc wltholJl, (lJght-w~t~,

The problem f:;l.cing ~IUI:hese spaceplane proje,cts ismoney. NASI', which was the best funded of an of them, has al ready been cuI; backand m~~y ra,oo cancellation because of alack of ~upport from NASA.

On Deeember 2, 199~1; midway UU'Qug11thc Fc;ujrl;h AnnU!l] Aerospace Planas conference in Orlando, Florida, •. :h L shutdfl m.~(!rH}{~J'Y liftfld oil' with n classified puyload. But not everyone W::3lS cheer:i.n.g. 'I'he cost OF the launch WJl~ equi.·vrn,]enl, to on~ YM.r·,~ funding for a]J the 8THH~epl ane projeets d!iscussed in. Orlan(lo,. most of whieh .~re expected to run out 'of mOill-ey by 199[;;

"The launch we saw this morning, ,llthoughmosl people are nfh-,!.id 1,(;1 raeognize it, ()ost$500 milhon," says John Swihart, vetsran Boeing engineer and pt'c81(1~;Tit flf the National G~,nter For Advanced Technulogtes {NeAT), '!ThaVs !ud!.i(:,!;QI1~. 'rh;lt'~ !!ol~.lrr~hing we can't contimre to do. We've got to think of a better way,"

The answer, giVQ1'.l the budgeh that all the nations involved are likely

to Me "in the 199'Os, isjnternational 00U~lbiYl;ij;t~(,in, Bijt Aijjli)t'tl 'car;;ts a pet'" manent shadow over any negotiatlens, El!J!'OlWam3 (U(~ convinced that NA8P ]£!, a cover for Auwt<l"and tll.(ll; the Unit" ed States is not serious about the ffipl~~(!pl'~~Hl 1msin@il>8i, Th~US gO'Ylili'nmont hasan li.1liff)1"blIt.<lte history of initiating collaborative programs, '~md them pumng out because a parallel hla,li;;k ])rogram slJOWS U:lJOfP. promise,

Tho Em'opcut1!5 are also ~m'!vinc(:!d that N ASP will not work, Q!J the h~j8i s of the,ur own studies of NAAP-type vehieles, Bu~; t.he~r designs are based on turbo-ramjet engines rather than comhined-cycle pcwerplants, which are l~ghl:er and provide higher average ISp,

It i$;· ~!Ult~~YI)();$~ibl@ tkat nul ~'illl the news ahout Atl!l"Orl8. is good. Secrecy hHS nft~]1 boon a eover for te('lnli(":':iil lind fin anci al problems, or fOJ" .~{::tj vilies that have' outlived their usefulness, It is ton()t;]!\lu~b]{l tht)t AIYJ\()t.~. has missed perfur mance btrgel:$-I.he Blackbird, brilliant as it wa 8, never mads its design n:m,ge" A.urm;'iIJi. may have overrun Itspn)jec:ted costs Ot~U, may he designed and eq ui ppod ]11 such a way that it is dedicated to, an obsolete nuclear w<~rnghturlgmi$$ion .. SO()i\~~' or hlt(2~,,', tntrt ~l(,ii'Y wnlr.:'oFl'l~ out

Opcn~ng up Aurora would accompl]sh several thing}" 11;. wOI.Jlc:1denr !J~e air for spaceplane collaboration. It nTigM c{)~)'Vir'!cJ[:j NASA afid eh@ El.U' 0-' peans U~at there i~ :il. case for p'1J~l'su'mg a single-,5tagH-to-orbit system based on REGC engines and seramiets, And it wuuld give the NASP ro.mmun~.ty aceOS5 to an excellent hij.rh.spcud 1{lE;1, YQ· hid.e.,

NoUring in the ala'."k, ex{;C~~ g:hol$t~~ mushrooms, a rid had decl = sions ..


Cover Maintailnl,e,d, Secrets IKept

When tlti 6 b[!'IlIk el cscd 1'01' i ts :!i !'st p~.'inW,rl.J':' in the spring: (If J900, the Clinton AdmiI1lisI',ratloil was !itill in the precess fif filling the Peatagcnelota. However, mypl'odicUo[J that there might he no ,8!hnJ"I)tunve:iling of !:.hi] Roog(;l,n·Bw!lh .milihtry hw; Fll'r~Vm) closer to I..h.€ truth than 1 expected,

.ln Sep tem he!" 1993, th e Pel] tagon moved til ~na~ off 3,900 f.HiJ"eF!. of p~lbU,c LLlind! in Nevada .. A ~atter from Air lol'orce Seeret4\1'Y ,Sheila l!:. Widrulll te Interior S~!'et~n;y Bruee B~bbitt said that the land was !looded "lor tho S,F1~i:l (l:nd! seeure operation of the f}(.,1;i v itifiR on HHI Nl;lni,i> l"j,liU!'l(),"

Widuall'll, explanation is vague to the paint of d.ecopLivlmess. Tl'H! gr.flb has nothiIlg to do with stllfety, Beyond dispute, the raasen fQr the !..wd grab is to preventelvlliall~ from ~~oing Gmmn [.f~kc,

The .~asoost grab is the COIlll)leLiml of a much larger takeover which W::lJ!!i planned and nuthorized under the. Rea:guu administration at the height of the Cold \;Yal', In 1984, U:1~ Air I"on:!! took ~).ve'r 89',000 ·fHn"CB' to the cast of the Oreom base, on similarly vague grounde,

The ]1l~Wl;it !:mi1.'1II;O rtl'llJ;rg1os alo!tl!; the. 1:984 boundary '~ib a gerrymandered voting tiiFlt,.'lcl:, It. eovers the hlll known as 'Whito S'ide.r:; and a l!uup]e ufother"'Ilnt:lg~ PQ'lnt~;

'Ibere is no way thnt the seizure diuld navt) the slight:.cst eiIToct on ''$uft!l • , , <lr)!il'lJ!.· tion' of the base, as WidnaH states in her l~:ttel' 'LQ B~,bb]tt.

The ueizuru oonfirns t;lil.f1~; Greom I ak~ is not a monument to the Gold War, butOO1L tlct.lvC'l night-t~.$t[!l;' I~ ~".ul!fi:rrn!> tnd the Soviet Union never was, the on],' t<'!rget of UHl ultra-tight :!':~cl]]'ity that surrounds the P.r;m.tagotl',~ hlll~k budget.

TIle Soviet Onion bas come apart. Iraq W~UI ~!l!~~t~t1 tI!!ll fig (n!)I)Elrently) tl.l;ICltli!!~lfiedtcchnelogy, If Ute blaek world has invented newer and more mroticwh lei) 11 .. c(;!rtt.ifi~Y shicndd halve dons, wit-It

~11 thnt r:noney--~he au'ver.!ii[lrit\~thf! Us wlll f.l)lce in the futur~ will p[.'OnahlYr.J9t be able to du much about it. So c~ ... ho, exact]y" is the bbclt wnrld kO{iping .l')l;lcrols fruolrf?

Semeone who should know is deputy delen8Cl :ltICl'elUHY Dr. WfIliarr! J, P,erry. On the surface, D,'. Parry 'has the typi{;.,l Clio~,on-appoinooepr'Ofi.]e; fIj technical, business, ,f}l'iU'I ilcFldl2ml.~b~lCk~~Wfid ~\'ficl an [,11](:0 i 13 tihe Carter adminissration.

But Perry has long-sl.andi,llig cenneetions to thL1 S1.'i'r.lret world. In 1964, ]JCl:'J"Y h,(lI]p~l found ESL Inc, {now Pfut of TRW}, whieh ,~~lp'Plil;ilii ;f;:1(lct:ronic cElves<:Ii'():pping equipment to the i,l:1'me() fOI'·ces and. intelligrll1!CE! ,fI!gen(!'les.

in ~he Cm"te.1' ,era, Pony Wf!lfl t!hl!l Pen· lagon's under-secretary of defense foI' re!!i~\iJ!rdl !,md m~ffjl'l.OO'r.ll'lg-l:t tiUe thu], bl!li~ d. Hsresponsibilitiee, '1'0 I:h(l(;le iIII the know; Di'c P,en,Y is the godfather ofstealtl'lc

Perry WiiUi ill!liI,trumcntlJll in th tlec'isl(jiu to fast-traek stealthinto service, (1,\,8[" the t1()ub~H of 1m-my servlee chiidil!-'l1l1d 00 bury it; in the Pentagon bast-'IIlcnt.

By the end of 199:~, Dr. Perry had given rllW ·~P~)r.("'3,I!rI·~nt~dl \'t!ll'y r~\I!,I' iflWrvi~WIil., and had not discussed the seeret bUQgIlt nt aU.

Widnall, thonew !'\.i,' Force Secn:htry., is also US~(] to· the secret vi t. orld, having iMl'r .... cd ror SOVijl1,l] Yl';lrxnl ~"1 n tl'fYstoo or Lhfl Aerospaee Corporation, the discreet ncnPl'oUt org,mi:lJlti[lon which pn!Vidle~ managemCTJ.t SOi"\lkll'flOO mOi'.lt f:'en1,~~~{qlrl spaoo programs-wen over half of which are black 1)I'oj~ts,

In Decclillioor 1993, Defense Secret.ary 1.0'.': Aspin unexped,.edl v resigned, Nm:ninf1Jt~ 0r1 to replaca himwmi Adm, Bribb~' Ray Inmarr+a career Intelligence man, formerly d!OJlu:~y dil'ectol; or ~elltn~l inlunigm'l~!l ,[lind dtrecw:r of th~ NSA. Iti5 a fail' gUi;tl':S that, for the tenure oJ' the current administraUo[l, Gi'Ollm Laltrt! win lee !l l,t!: !\lG()j~ij($,


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Wh~ did the .:Pent.a~on retire the SR-71 spyphme in. Jl990, wlth barely a peep ofpl"otest?

"What causes the sonie booms thalt the US Ge(Q]og.!cal Service hsseIocked on its setsmographs at Mach. 3-4 over the Southern California desert since 1991~?

"What wMitihe strange ai.reraft, shaped like an isosceles tthulgle with a 75-degree sweepback, that Chris Gibson, an e~peit in aircraft reeognition train.ed by t,h.e British Royal Observer Corps, :e:<.'li:W f'r·om the oil rig Galu?ston Key over the North ,s~a in August 19891

''Tne missing piece in thds puzzle, and a number of others, lsa .spyplane called Aurora," saysanther Em ,Sv.oeetrnan. But the US Atr Force denies that such an aircraft ,eoci.st5.

Intn]s groundbreeking book, Sweetman investigates the ma..t!J.y :reports of un~de:ndfied hJgh"speedaireraft that have eireulated sinoo 1988. He, llirgues ,co,nvincingly t,hat themysrery aircl'aft,!,s shape and size are an uncannily [l~rfi;!Ct match. to a. Mach 6,. methane-fueled, ra;m.j@t~:powered replacement. foOr the Lockheed. 8:&-71 and o:t'fidal denjals= A'Illwra exists .• its CQst· and QfficiSil identity burled within a vast secret military budget.

Bill Sweetman is the world's preeminent journalist 'On. b]aek~bndg,~t aircraft. His previeus bnoks, including Ste,aJ,th /Jomber,Lockhc,(;d F-117 Stealtit F.ightfJ~ and YF·22 andYF-23 Adv{Utced Thctr.eal Fighters, have all been acknowledged as t~1!efirS't and d'ennitive books-on theil' subj eeta


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