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USAF to Pursue Blackswift-Type Hypersonic Vehicle

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
January 13, 2011
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USAF Revives Blackswift Hypersonic-Like Plan
Aviation Week

The U.S. Air Force is studying a hypersonic road map that calls for development of ambitious high-speed weapons and a high-speed reusable flight research vehicle (HSRFRV), slightly larger than the Darpa-led Blackswift Mach 6 demonstrator canceled in 2008.

Both high-speed elements emerged from a government-industry workshop meeting in Washington Dec. 8-9, and covered development priorities designed to maintain the recent impetus in hypersonics gained with the X-51A WaveRider, X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle and HTV-2 hypersonic test….

The weapons path would be fast-tracked, with development of a demonstrator over five years and first flight by October 2016. Three major options for the demonstrator include an “X-51-like” vehicle that would, like the WaveRider, be air-launched from a B-52. A second option would cover development of a “tactically compliant” high-speed version that could be carried internally by the Northrop Grumman B-2, and externally by the Lockheed Martin F-35. A third option, also involving a B-2/F-35-capable launch, would be an all-new vehicle configuration.

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