Boeing reveals hypersonic research vehicle

Boeing has revealed a scale Mach 5-plus concept demonstrator that could lead to a future full-scale hypersonic strike and reconnaissance capability.

Planned to ultimately be about the same size as the 33.6m long SR-71A Blackbird which was retired in 1998, and bearing more than a passing resemblance to the Blackbird through its sharply swept wing and fuselage chine which runs from the nose to the wing leading edge and twin tails, the program will initially focus on a smaller F-16-sized concept demonstrator.

Boeing plans to leverage its experience on hypersonic demonstrator programs such as the X-43 and the X-51A Waverider, both of which featured sharply-swept delta wings, and Boeing legacy company Rockwell’s experience going all the way back to the Mach 3 capable XB-70 bomber program of the 1960s.

“It’s a really hard problem to develop an aircraft that takes off and accelerates through Mach 1 all the way to Mach 5 and beyond,” Kevin Bowcutt, Boeing chief scientist for hypersonics told media at the concept unveiling in Florida on January 10.

“The specific impulse of an air breathing engine goes down with increasing velocity, so you have to make the engine bigger to get to Mach 5. But doing that means a bigger inlet and a bigger nozzle, and trying to get that through Mach 1 is harder.”

The Boeing design follows a similar looking concept being studied by Lockheed Martin’s famed Skunk Works advanced projects division, the notional ‘SR-72’.


  1. jasonp says

    No, Aurora was around in the mid to late 1980s, and has been explained by the USAF as being a budget line item for the then ATB (B-2) program. Some writers have tried to link Aurora to an SR-71 replacement, but the SR-71 was operational until the late 1990s, so the timelines don’t match.

  2. Hayden.R says

    the picture of “aurora” with F-111s and a tanker made me think it was an F-117 nighthawk.

  3. says

    First of all, it is quite well known that the Aurora replaced the blackbird. Then they were having problems with the Aurora and bought the blackbird back until they could fix what was going on with the Aurora.Some used to call the Aurora the pulser because of the noise the engine made. It sounds to me that they were having problems all the time with the PWDE. Jasonp, they did make that announcement but it wasn’t true. I would think they would have demonstrators already if not the real thing already. The photos that were taken in Amarillo TX suggests they have things flying out at Groom 30-40 years ahead of what we see in the white world. I love studying the black world it fascinates me. I myself have climbed Tikaboo a few times ( and have only seen Janets🙄) but even Ben Rich on his death bed said we have things flying at Groom that would even make George Lucas drool. I’ll leave it at that.

  4. says

    Lockheed have more experience than Boeing in this area. I am pretty sure that when they announce these things they have already moved onto the next generation beyond what you see in the above picture. If you search Dreamland resort they have awesome detail of the current facility in full. They had a series of sky quakes in California in the 90s which tracked a plane heading back from space , to Groom. Search the web of the last words Ben Rich made before his death. Ben is a genius and a true warrior and hero. Fascinating reading. Cheers.