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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

X-51A, X-53... What and Where's the X-52?

So here's a question brought up in conversations at work.

Although X-plane designations are not necessarily released in numerical sequence by the USAF/XPPE, whenever there is a glaring hole in the sequence it sends X-plane enthusiasts into a frenzied search for clues. This is just such a case.

Late in 2005 the X-51A designation was given out to a hypersonic scramjet technology demonstrator.

Then in December of 2006 the USAF announces the X-53 designation being granted to the Active Aeroelastic Wing technology demonstrator, essentially an F-18 with morphing wings.

The glaring hole being exposed is of course the X-52;

Does it exist?

What would it be?

If I had to guess with no further information at my disposal, I would probably go with a revisit to the Turbojet/Ramjet Combined Cycle Engine. Some of you enthusiasts may recall that the SR-71's PW J-58's were Turbojet/Ramjet Combined Cycle Engines.

Combined cycle engine technology is being refreshed and refined for the Falcon project - and recently it was announced that the Falcon HTV-1 was not going to fly but the HTV-2 was being developed for flight. The purpose being to have one air-breathing unit take the vehicle from take-off to subsonic flight to a speed fast enough to ignite a scramjet.

Could such an X-plane demonstrator be in the works?

If there is an X-52, what do YOU think it is?

Posted by Natalie @ 12:49 PM

Read or Post a Comment

Glad to see you picked up on my post ;) I see your point about the missing designation, not quite the F-19 but interesting all the same.

The only thing is I was always of the opinion that the x-planes were never classified; they may lead to or even stem from black projects but in effect are the white world companions of the air forces most secret research projects.

The only lead I can find is this site:
This is from a Slovak plane site. I often visit the site because it is a veritable tome of rare plane photos and plane designs and makes a fascinating source or just a browse. He has a page on the X-52 which I cant read since I dont speak slovak but the pictures imply that it is some jointed wing design. I dont know his source of this info.

Happy hunting
George Dibb

Posted by Anonymous George Dibb @ Tuesday, December 19, 2006 1:18:00 PM #

Thanks for the input George...

For those who don't know, George is a fellow defense tech blogger, his blog can be found at:


Posted by Blogger Natalie @ Tuesday, December 19, 2006 2:48:00 PM #
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