You can contest the existence of the "Aurora spy plane" all you want to. Something under the general concept that became affiliated with the name
"Aurora" was likely a proof-of-concept.
I mean... if you're looking for evidence... just look at the daggum airstrip. You could land an aircraft on that thing that had a stall speed of a
few hundred knots, I'd reckon (depending upon mass and yadda yadda techno-babble).
There are a number of functional tasks such an aircraft could be used to perform. You can launch satellites into orbit with much smaller rocket
boosters that would avoid tripping the geosynch IR satellites the U.S. and Russia had placed over each other to detect the launch of any rocket
capable of achieving orbit. Thus - we could launch spy satellites, munitions satellites - whatever we wanted, and they would not know to be watching
That solves a number of problems that exist with spy satellites and spy planes. First - spy satellites can be tracked and worked-around. Second -
spy planes are expensive to maintain (though far more unpredictable than satellites) and operate. Also, taking pictures from within the atmosphere
and at such speeds becomes problematic. Radar readings are also hazy, and the thermal shock-cone you're generating shows up like a 747 on radar.
With this solution - you get the best of both worlds. You have severely reduced maintenance/operational costs due to the short flights used to launch
the satellite. It is exo-atmospheric so photo distortion and radar signature due to the atmosphere are not nearly as big of a concern. And you have
the 'element of surprise' - with a bit of a lasting effect. A decaying orbit could give a few passes or more out of a single flight operation.
That same method could also deliver a small warhead...
And the way those projects work is somewhat counter-intuitive. Military and civilian employees mingle and tinker with ideas to accomplish a goal.
They get to browse the catalog of military equipment, pick what they want, and modify the living crap out of it.
This SR-72 is the culmination of several lines of technology rumored to have been developed over the past few decades. First, you have the Mach 6
flight. In today's world where the chances of having to respond to a mobile launch of chemical, biological, or radiological missiles - speed is key.
This thing, being able to kick out there like a bat out of hell, fits that bill. It could easily carry a payload that could intercept an ICBM or
destroy the launcher before the missile launched. The U.S. military suffers from having a wide area of engagement and a rather small military. This
helps shrink the battlefield, once again. (And I'd love to see what this thing paired with a couple JSOW sub-munition dispensers could do...).
Then, we have the UCAV concept. This is only logical. The life-support systems and pilot dimensions only increase the bulk and drag of the aircraft
in this scenario. If nothing else - this is a hypersonic Hail Mary that isn't planning on coming back to the carrier/hangar, anyway - so I wouldn't
want to be in it. Hitting Zone Five all the way into Moscow to deliver a farewell token just doesn't sound like it'd be the way I want to go. Be a
hell of a ride... but... no.
This also gives us a nice preemptive strike capability against another country to obtain air superiority. These UCAVs can be right in the face of
anything - bombers, fighters, strike aircraft... they can get right up in their face and take them down before anyone knows what happened. Better,
still - they can outrun just about everything that can be shot at them - and probably fast enough that many tracking systems would not appreciate
trying to follow one of these guys.
If a JDAM could withstand the stresses accompanied with being launched at such a velocity, it would greatly improve their range (although with
arguably no real benefit).
This is pretty cool. It's nice to see something real for once. I want one, now. Fly it right over the top of the homes of people I don't
like..... "I shall bring the wrath of God upon you!"
*orange fireball streaks by followed by a supersonic boom and overpressure wave*"You have been warned!"