Tuesday, December 19, 2006So 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?