We had crossed into Libya and were approaching our final turn over the bleak desert landscape when Walter informed me that he was receiving missile launch signals. I quickly increased our speed, calculating the time it would take for the weapons-most likely SA-2 and SA-4 surface-to-air missiles capable of Mach 5 - to reach our altitude. I estimated that we could beat the rocket-powered missiles to the turn and stayed our course, betting our lives on the plane’s performance.That's the venerated SR71 Blackbird he's talking about, of course, and it ought to send a thrill up the spine of any dedicated go-fast gearhead who still registers a pulse in this age of underpowered eco-friendly eggmobiles. But just like Ron Popeil used to say: wait, there's more!
After several agonizingly long seconds, we made the turn and blasted toward the Mediterranean. ‘You might want to pull it back,’ Walter suggested. It was then that I noticed I still had the throttles full forward. The plane was flying a mile every 1.6 seconds, well above our Mach 3.2 limit. It was the fastest we would ever fly. I pulled the throttles to idle just south of Sicily, but we still overran the refueling tanker awaiting us over Gibraltar.
More reports suggest that the FY2009 budget will indeed include money for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) hypersonic demonstrator, named Blackswift. Ares and our colleagues over at Danger Room have been covering this since mid-2007 and the outlines have now emerged clearly.Uhhh...Mach 6? On conventional fuel?
It's a $750 million program to produce a small unmanned demonstrator - F-16-size or smaller - that will be able to fly off a runway, get to Mach 6 or higher, decelerate and land under power, using relatively conventional fuel.
Yes, he has pictures. And there's video of a sort, and more info, here.
I'll be in my bunk.