The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird stealth plane is a milestone achievement in air superiority and, at that time, was a step ahead of any other manned aircraft in the world. However, a number of factors rendered the SR-71 ineffective in the modern era. The chief problem was the buildup of detail in the exhaust gases produced by onboard engines, which deflected the airflow to much greater lengths, from which the aircraft was unable to discern an enemy aircraft.
However, a close relative could solve this problem, according to a pilot who has spent decades working with various types of engines. He’s the inventor of “a type of turbine engine aircraft engine that could fly at least twice as fast as the SR-71,” writes the Wired website. A more versatile and elegant design would certainly be a landmark.
For perspective, the SR-71 could fly Mach 1.5 in straight lines at 25,000 feet — but under far different circumstances. The jet could be used for classified missions to attack enemy radar installations or to navigate dangerous areas. It also carried special avionics to turn a pilot into a bat with a six-foot tail. These capabilities, though, were largely counter-productive. Since the jet was able to fly at ungodly speeds — and therefore could operate at altitudes far beyond the range of today’s cruise missiles — adversaries developed more sophisticated countermeasures to the stealth aspect.
Designers spent a decade working on a new jet engine — not that they set out to correct the flaw that destroyed the SR-71. Instead, “the intent was to create a modern military engine,” Forbes wrote. That, however, may have been too simplistic, since the aerospace industry hasn’t had a robust commercial engine since the F-35. The engine in this attempt, however, is nearly ready for prime time.
(Special thanks to CNN for showing off the new supersonic aircraft.)
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