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post #1 of 63 (permalink) Old 04-07-2008, 05:03 PM Thread Starter
 
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Since there are so many aircraft geeks here...

Curiosity finally got me...

The SR-71 was listed as having a 'declassified' Maximum speed of Mach 3.2, and a Ceiling of 85,000'. Do we currently have any aircraft that surpasses either its ceiling or top speed?
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post #2 of 63 (permalink) Old 04-07-2008, 05:11 PM
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Depends on your definition of "aircraft"

The X-15 can do mach 6.72 and put you on the fringes of space @ about 328,000 feet.

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post #3 of 63 (permalink) Old 04-07-2008, 05:14 PM Thread Starter
 
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"In service" aircraft. Armed forces.

Jet powered.

the X-15 was rocket powered. Not that I would need to point that out to you.
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post #4 of 63 (permalink) Old 04-07-2008, 05:19 PM
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Then no, we don't. The F-22 and F-15 have "service ceilings" of about 65K feet. Both are capable of more, but sustaining that altitude gets tough when their top speed is mach ~2.5. The SR-71 is only capable of the altitude because of its speed, and vice versa. Nothing else has ever been designed to fly at 80,000 feet and take pictures of a golf ball. The U-2 can fly at 70,000 feet, but it is more dependent on the surface area of its wings. And due to the density of the air at that altitude, it has to maintain its speed carefully, because it is balanced between stalling and breaking the sound barrier.

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post #5 of 63 (permalink) Old 04-07-2008, 05:31 PM Thread Starter
 
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Then no, we don't. The F-22 and F-15 have "service ceilings" of about 65K feet. Both are capable of more, but sustaining that altitude gets tough when their top speed is mach ~2.5. The SR-71 is only capable of the altitude because of its speed, and vice versa. Nothing else has ever been designed to fly at 80,000 feet and take pictures of a golf ball. The U-2 can fly at 70,000 feet, but it is more dependent on the surface area of its wings. And due to the density of the air at that altitude, it has to maintain its speed carefully, because it is balanced between stalling and breaking the sound barrier.
The F-35 might have the potential for the 80,000+ ceiling, but it's operational ceiling and climb rate are still classified.


There is also rumor (or myth) that has been going around for a while about "Aurora". Hard to say given the lack of information, though.

It seems to me that such a fast and high flying plane could be used for roles other than strictly recon.
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post #6 of 63 (permalink) Old 04-07-2008, 05:36 PM
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I doubt the F-35 will have a ceiling/speed much higher than the F-22 or F-15 simply because it is supposed to be so versatile. It'll likely have a Mach 1.8-2.0 speed, and a 60,000ft service ceiling.

The aurora is one of the planes that has been rumored about for years, supposedly using scramjets. I guess it is possible, and if so it would have speed/altitude numbers to rival the x-15. But I don't see it being a usefull part of the everyday military.

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post #7 of 63 (permalink) Old 04-07-2008, 05:44 PM Thread Starter
 
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I doubt the F-35 will have a ceiling/speed much higher than the F-22 or F-15 simply because it is supposed to be so versatile. It'll likely have a Mach 1.8-2.0 speed, and a 60,000ft service ceiling.

The aurora is one of the planes that has been rumored about for years, supposedly using scramjets. I guess it is possible, and if so it would have speed/altitude numbers to rival the x-15. But I don't see it being a usefull part of the everyday military.


The F-35 has a speed of Mach 1.6. At least, that is what the current reports say. Like you said, though... probably not much for a ceiling on it. Especially considering the F-35B is designed as a Short takeoff/Vertical landing aircraft.

If the Aurora exists, and is using scramjet engines, I would assume it would definitely be FAR superior to the SR-71.
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post #8 of 63 (permalink) Old 04-07-2008, 05:47 PM
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I'll wait for the shakedowns before I trust the numbers they're publishing. We're likely to see a little difference between the AF and USMC variants which could have a significant impact on speed/ceiling. Whose bright idea was it to use the same plane for everything? Vote them out.

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post #9 of 63 (permalink) Old 04-07-2008, 05:52 PM Thread Starter
 
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Whose bright idea was it to use the same plane for everything? Vote them out.




They've been trying that for years, too. You'd think they would have learned by now how unfeasible that goal really is.
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post #10 of 63 (permalink) Old 04-07-2008, 06:10 PM
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Case in point...the A-10. It can loiter around the battlefield for 45 minutes killing everything in sight, fly back missing half a wing, an engine, the better part of the horizontal stabilizer, etc...and the pilot still makes it to the bar in time to celebrate.

Send in an F-16, it burns half its fuel getting there, drops 1 (maybe 2) laser designated bombs, burns the rest of its fuel on egress and leaves the troops on the ground on their own. If I was a grunt, I'd pray to see an A-10 or Apache.

"The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets."
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