Re: Lockheed Mach 5 Penetrator

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Message posted by quellish (Member since 06/26/2008) on August 09, 2023 at 19:20:25 PST:

> I'm aware of Lockheed's L-301 hypersonic technology demonstrator derived from the Martin Marietta X-24C

The L-301 was to be a testbed to continue/extend the work of the X-15 as a hypersonic research facility. It was the last project of the last employee of Reaction Motors as it was to use the XLR-99. It was envisioned to allow testing of a number of different propulsion concepts, etc. It was not related to the Mach 5 penetrator, etc.

One organization within Lockheed started work on what became the "Mach 5 Penetrator" in the late 1970s. The concept(s) evolved over time. They looked at hydrogen, methane, different propulsion systems, etc. The outer mold line evolved over time as well.

At the same time other organizations within Lockheed were working on hypersonic aircraft designs. Just within the Skunk Works there were multiple hypersonic aircraft projects going on independently just in the late 1970s.

The Advanced Design group within Lockheed conducted the "penetrator" studies. From 1983-1985 they were under contract with USAF to study two complimentary aircraft, a HALE UAV and a manned hypersonic aircraft. The manned hypersonic aircraft was one of the final "Penetrator" designs. They studied several possible missions for it - including ASW!

> There's an unclassified image of the engine nacelle for the Mach 5 Penetrator design which dates from 1982 that I found at this link at the Secret Projects Forum:

That configuration - specifically the propulsion system - was classified for a time, but is not classified now. It is, however, considered export controlled (MTCR). NASA will not release some of those documents under FOIA because they believe it would violate MTCR, effectively allowing them to withhold it indefinitely.

> when were the oldest project documents for the Lockheed Mach 5 Penetrator issued

To the best of my knowledge, 1979. There was even an Aviation Week article on it at the end of 1979 though it has several errors and confuses this study with the L-301.

> I would imagine hat the reason for reports from early 1988 and a November 1988 Popular Science issue claiming that Lockheed was developing a Mach 6 spyplane was because someone was aware of the Mach 5 Penetrator design and assumed that it waiting in the wings to one day replace the SR-71.

The first article to "reveal" a secret hypersonic SR-71 replacement in development was in the New York Times in January 1988. A day later an article in the Los Angeles Times added the link to Lockheed and "Aurora"

Neither article described the "Penetrator" or related studies. At least the NY Times article was using sources within DoD who were (supposed) aware of what USAF was doing at the time.

In Reply to: Re: Lockheed Mach 5 Penetrator posted by Vahe Demirjian on August 09, 2023 at 9:33:13 PST:


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