Re: Lockheed Mach 5 Penetrator

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Message posted by quellish (Member since 06/26/2008) on August 08, 2023 at 17:51:59 PST:

> The Mach 5 Penetrator and other Lockheed design studies for hypersonic reconnaissance aircraft in the late 1970s and 1980s were just a head-start for Lockheed to contemplate a long-term SR-71 replacement, and because Lockheed in 1983 was awarded a contract for a tech demonstrator for the Quartz/AARS, the USAF seems to have perceived the Quartz/AARS unmanned flying wing as a less technically risky successor design to the SR-71 than a hypersonic aircraft like the Mach 5 Penetrator design. A similar dynamic happened in 2013 when Lockheed Martin unveiled the SR-72 hypersonic spyplane design months before AWST reported the existence of the less technically risky RQ-180, which like the SR-71 is designed to penetrate heavily defended airspace during long-range reconnaissance missions.

I can stay with a very, very high confidence that the above is incorrect.
Lockheed did study a number of hypersonic aircraft in the 1970s and 1980s, some of which were intended to perform reconnaissance, and these studies include the "Mach 5 Penetrator". Some of these studies were for USAF, some were for NASA, etc.

In the 1985 timeframe Lockheed was studying a very long endurance HALE UAV and a hypersonic aircraft with turbo ramjet propulsion as complimentary systems. At the same time other organizations within Lockheed were studying other HALE UAVs and hypersonic aircraft. The HALE UAV was considerably different than QUARTZ and may or may not have been related to it.

QUARTZ was not a USAF program until the later part of the 1980s when programs were consolidated under ARSP, which was itself under NRO. Prior to that it was a CIA and NRO program, with very limited USAF participation. QUARTZ had very difficult requirements and very high technical risk.

The Lockheed "SR-72" directly evolved from the Falcon program. It was just the Falcon HTV-3/HTV-3X with a different name, It was only paper / wind tunnel studies of a notional aircraft. The USAF was never interested in it. DARPA was, and the "SR-72" competed with a Boeing design for a practical hypersonic air breathing demonstrator briefly before the program was cancelled. Since then NASA used the "SR-72" design for propulsion design studies, that's it. There was no "SR-72" vs "RQ-180" decision.

> but since the tiniest bits of info about the Quartz/AARS program (e.g. Tier III) were not yet published in aviation-related print media when Sweetman published the book Aurora

There are a number of mentions of QUARTZ, if not by name, in the aviation press going back to 1986-1987. And in 1992/1993 the aviation press was using the QUARTZ/Q name to describe it. Articles in the 1980s mentioned a large stealthy UAV which would host the PLSS and Joint-STARS payloads, etc.

In Reply to: Re: Lockheed Mach 5 Penetrator posted by Vahe Demirjian on August 07, 2023 at 9:44:15 PST:


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