Feeds

DARPA seeks $750m for hypersonic roboplane testbed

Bad news for tinfoil-sporting 'Aurora' diehards

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

DARPA*, the Pentagon research hothouse where only the most exotic notions bloom on a rich mulch of taxpayer greenbacks, is bidding for a cool three-quarter-billion in funds to build a hypersonic plane.

Reports of the "Blackswift" project - a refinement of the HTV-3X demonstrator plan mooted under DARPA's Falcon scheme - emerged last year. Now, according to reports, 2009 funding requests going before American legislators contain an item of $0.75bn for DARPA to take the project forward. If all goes well, the US air force will take it over in time.

The plans call for a fighter-sized, probably unmanned testbed aircraft which is thought likely to burn fairly ordinary hydrocarbon fuel in turbo/ram jets based on the same kind of technology as the late, great Mach-3.5 SR71 "Blackbird" spyplane of Cold War fame. Reliable sources suggest that speeds of Mach 6 plus could be on the cards this time. That would normally be into hydrogen scramjet territory, but some researchers think that heavier fuel can be burnt practically in a supersonic airflow. Others reckon that intake air could be slowed using magnetohydrodynamics, and the energy put back in downstream of the combustion chamber.

The funding figures were reported by Inside Defense (subscription only). Wired magazine, which originally confirmed the Blackswift plans, has details too.

Bad news, this, for those who contend that America has been operating a top-secret hypersonic SR71 replacement all along. If the legendary "Aurora" really exists, Blackswift is shaping up to be the most expensive and elaborate disinformation ploy ever. ®

*Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
Volcanic eruption in Iceland triggers CODE RED aviation warning
Lava-spitting Bárðarbunga prompts action from Met Office
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
Major cyber attack hits Norwegian oil industry
Statoil, the gas giant behind the Scandie social miracle, targeted
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?