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STT757
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Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Thu Aug 14, 2008 12:42 am

Regarding US response to the Georgian crisis;

Quote:
According to defense officials, it took until Wednesday afternoon for the U.S. to have what they called more robust intelligence on Russian movements around Gori. With the military's eyes and ears focused on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, intelligence-gathering was hampered through the weekend until the Pentagon authorized the repositioning of some satellites and was able to meld that data with reports from the ground, the officials said.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080813/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_russia_georgia

Russia (as well as China, Iran etc..) knows exactly where the US reconnaissance satellites are, and when they fly over. They can plan their movements and exercises accordingly, a SR-71 could have been dispatched within hours of news of Russia's invasion. Now the U-2s are also being retired, leaving the US totally dependent on a technology who's scheduled snooping are well known by adversaries. Absolutely never going to have the element of surprise when your every move is scheduled.

High Speed, High Altitude, low radar signature reconnaissance aircraft are desperately needed in the US inventory.

Based in the UK and Japan would allow them to be on station within hours of a crisis anywhere in the World.
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Thorny
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Thu Aug 14, 2008 1:14 am



Quoting STT757 (Thread starter):
Now the U-2s are also being retired, leaving the US totally dependent on a technology who's scheduled snooping are well known by adversaries.

I wonder what the ultimate objective of this bird is...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_X-37
 
DeltaGuy
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Thu Aug 14, 2008 5:32 pm

I say we bring back a new version of the RA-5C Vigilante, maybe with GE-110's  Wink

DeltaGuy
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Slcpilot
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Fri Aug 15, 2008 2:00 pm

Don't worry, there's a system out there  Wink

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/gener...channel=awst&id=news/07073news.xml

"Some pilots claim they see things, they are ushered into a room, and come out saying they were probably mistaken...." > I have heard this quote.

Cheers!

SLCPilot
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LY744
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Fri Aug 15, 2008 3:45 pm

I'm sure Boeing can slap together a 737-based high altitude recce plane in no time.  Wink


LY744.
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STT757
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Fri Aug 15, 2008 4:18 pm

Why send a stealth UAV over Iraq, there's no Radar guided SAM threat.
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wvsuperhornet
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Sat Aug 16, 2008 7:37 am

Dont bet money that they dont already have a replacement. The US retired the SR-71 and now the U-2 and there is no Generals kicking and screaming in the halls of the Pentagon. There is probably a reason. You dont really think the pentagon is stupid enough to pay $600.00 for a toilet seat or $500.00 for a hammer do you. That money is going someplace.

[Edited 2008-08-16 00:38:44]
 
Thorny
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Sat Aug 16, 2008 3:51 pm



Quoting Wvsuperhornet (Reply 6):
Dont bet money that they dont already have a replacement.

Yes, bigger and better reconnaissance satellites. When SR-71 was designed, recon satellites were in their infancy, with Corona and limited film-return capsules. As spy satellites got better with digital downlinks and then relay satellites for continuous contact, up through KH-11s and Lacrosse radar satellites, the cost of maintaining SR-71 got harder and harder to justify. It seems unlikely that some Mach 6 Super SR-71 is going to be any cheaper or easier to maintain.

Occam's Razor at work. Which is the simplest explanation...

a) the Pentagon is flying Mach 6, 150,000 ft. Super SR-71 spyplanes which no one has ever seen except for dubious claims of mysterious "knotted contrails" (which many others say they see coming from 737s and A320s) even while public programs in hypersonic research have encountered major technical problems, or...

b) the Pentagon and NRO are using spy satellites instead.
 
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Stitch
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Sat Aug 16, 2008 4:50 pm



Quoting STT757 (Reply 5):
Why send a stealth UAV over Iraq, there's no Radar guided SAM threat.

Same reason we sent the E-8 JSTARS prototypes to the Persian Gulf during the 1991 conflict - gain "real world" operational data in a "safe" environment.

Being able to fly "Dark Star II" in combat without risk of enemy engagement would be very valuable to the program's future development.

Quoting Thorny (Reply 1):
I wonder what the ultimate objective of this bird (the X-37) is...

It sounds unlikely to be used for immediate reconnaissance since it requires a launch vehicle which would mean even longer delays. And no way they will put men in it since the Atlas is not a "man-certified" launch platform.

Frankly, I'd prefer something like Dale Brown's(?) "NIRTS" - Need It Right This Second - micro-satellite "swarm" that can easily launched from a small booster rocket (like the Pegasus) from a manned platform (be it an L-1011 or B-52). Said swarm can be in place within hours (likely faster then even a hypersonic manned platform) and loiter for a few days or weeks and then safely de-orbit and burn-up.
 
Thorny
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Sat Aug 16, 2008 6:09 pm



Quoting Stitch (Reply 8):
It sounds unlikely to be used for immediate reconnaissance since it requires a launch vehicle which would mean even longer delays. And no way they will put men in it since the Atlas is not a "man-certified" launch platform.

1, No need for a pilot. KH-11's don't have pilots. Shuttles can land themselves except for needing someone to lower the landing gear on final.
2. The Air Force has been making a lot of noise about fast reaction launches lately (see SpaceX's Falcon.) This might explain why the Air Force so readily gave SpaceX the old Titan pad at Cape Canaveral for Falcon 9, even though it already has two equivalent launch vehicles in service.
3. Private industry is quietly working to man-rate Atlas to use it to launch passengers to Bigelow's space hotel. Delta IV advocates say man-rating it would not be difficult and NASA should do that instead of spending a fortune on Ares I.

Quoting Stitch (Reply 8):
Frankly, I'd prefer something like Dale Brown's(?) "NIRTS" - Need It Right This Second - micro-satellite "swarm" that can easily launched from a small booster rocket (like the Pegasus)

You reach the point of diminishing returns fairly quickly the smaller you go with satellites, though. There's only so small you can make optics, and any smaller and the microsatellite won't be of much use. Meanwhile, X-37's payload bay is roughly the same size as an SR-71 or U-2 equipment bay. Coincidence?
 
HaveBlue
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Sat Aug 16, 2008 11:34 pm



Quoting Thorny (Reply 7):
claims of mysterious "knotted contrails" (which many others say they see coming from 737s and A320s)

A few years ago I saw the famous 'donuts on a rope' contrail. My jaw almost dropped. That was until I followed the contrail to its origin, which indeed was a 737.

I'd love to believe there's an SR-71 successor, but at least the contrails themselves were answered for me that day.
Here Here for Severe Clear!
 
ebj1248650
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Sat Aug 23, 2008 9:36 pm



Quoting HaveBlue (Reply 10):
A few years ago I saw the famous 'donuts on a rope' contrail. My jaw almost dropped. That was until I followed the contrail to its origin, which indeed was a 737.

I'd love to believe there's an SR-71 successor, but at least the contrails themselves were answered for me that day.

I can't help but believe there is a manned successor to the SR-71 but also believe it's a very black project.
Dare to dream; dream big!
 
CX747
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Sun Aug 24, 2008 10:20 pm

One common misconception is that the U-2 is being retired. Nothing could be further from the truth. The aircraft was scheduled to be retired but was taken off the list. It is currently in high demand.

As for spy satellites, they are great but predicatble. They are the answer to some of our problems but not the be and end all for reconaissance.

While the U-2, E-8, RC-135, Global Hawk, Predator and satellites currently serve our nation very well. Our need for rapid response over hostile areas though has diminished since the retirement of the SR-71. That could be just one of the reasons why the USAF and Skunk works have been formulating this.

http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2007/06/airforce_sr72_070617/
"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or timid." D. Eisenhower
 
Thorny
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Mon Aug 25, 2008 2:15 am



Quoting CX747 (Reply 12):
That could be just one of the reasons why the USAF and Skunk works have been formulating this.

http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/20...0617/

Well, I'm skeptical of needing both Mach 6 and stealth. Seems kinda pointless to me. (At Mach 6, by the time your enemy sees the thing, it will be too late to do anything about it.)
 
res
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Mon Aug 25, 2008 7:57 am

The new HUGE hangar that was recently built at Area 51 - now THERE's something you can see with your own eyes. It's not just there for looks......but for purpose. So, maybe for purpose of the "SR-72" or something else that smells funny
FLY NAVY
 
UH60FtRucker
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Mon Aug 25, 2008 11:12 am

Why spend millions of dollars on a new aircraft, when we are already fielding the world's largest fleet of UAVs?

You know who finds my targets in central Asia? UAVs. Not supersonic, multi-billion dollar project aircraft, with expensively trained pilots.

They go where ever we want them to go, and they not only provide real time imagery, they provide real time strike capability. And if you think UAVs are not already secretly flying over our enemies, you're wrong.

The only reason people like ST7757, want shiny new SR-71 type aircraft, is because they can't see beyond the artificial glamour -- and look at military needs from a strategic level.

-UH60
Your men have to follow your orders. They don't have to go to your funeral.
 
CX747
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Mon Aug 25, 2008 10:21 pm

To begin with, I would like to thank UH-60 for his service on behalf of our country. God speed, and get back home safe to your wife and sons.

Strategic reconnaissance is of vital importance to our nation or any other. We should have a tool bag full of goodies capable of handling any and all situations. We have spent the better part of 15+ years without a full tool bag. What we do not have is the ability to look anywhere we want, at any time and in any weather. That capability was retired in the early 1990s and brought back for a year in the mid 1990s. It's name was the SR-71 and what it could do on a daily basis has not been replaced.

The U-2 and Global Hawk can take the same pictures as the SR-71 but can't go over the same places without being in danger of getting shot down. Spy satellites can look at the same area as the SR-71 but take a long time to be repositioned and can't be pulled off Iraq and Afghanistan for one off missions. Predator and Reaper UAVs are the latest fad but don't fly any faster than Beech King Airs.

A SR-72 would once again give us the capability of launching a reconnaissance mission over Russia and catch what we are looking for out in the open. We could once again operate over Tehran in the middle of day taking pictures of whatever we wanted without warning. Instead of having to wait days to see what is happening in Georgia, you could fire up a SR-72 based in Beale/Diego Garcia/Mildenhall/Kadena and have valuable, up to date information in only a few hours.

We need tools that get down and dirty (Predator/Reaper), we need tools that can give us a good overlook in most places (U-2/Global Hawk) and we need a 24hr a day photo lense to look at places all over the globe (satellites). What we also need is the ability to operate an information gathering device in any environment and against any threat. A fleet of 15-20 "SR-72" would give us that abililty.

Here is more information about the SR-72

http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/03/blackwift-aircr.html
"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or timid." D. Eisenhower
 
UH60FtRucker
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Tue Aug 26, 2008 4:26 am



Quoting CX747 (Reply 16):
That capability was retired in the early 1990s and brought back for a year in the mid 1990s. It's name was the SR-71 and what it could do on a daily basis has not been replaced.

Well not really. The SR-71 did not have stellar range, and could never penetrate deep over Russia or China. So to say that it could go anywhere, anytime, is not accurate.

Quoting CX747 (Reply 16):
A SR-72 would once again give us the capability of launching a reconnaissance mission over Russia and catch what we are looking for out in the open. We could once again operate over Tehran in the middle of day taking pictures of whatever we wanted without warning. Instead of having to wait days to see what is happening in Georgia, you could fire up a SR-72 based in Beale/Diego Garcia/Mildenhall/Kadena and have valuable, up to date information in only a few hours.

But why does it have to be manned? We've already proven the vast reaching ability of UAVs. If you're going to look for another fast moving recon bird, why not build a fleet of smaller, cheaper, less politically risky UAVs?

-UH60
Your men have to follow your orders. They don't have to go to your funeral.
 
Alien
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Tue Aug 26, 2008 6:12 am



Quoting UH60FtRucker (Reply 17):
Well not really. The SR-71 did not have stellar range, and could never penetrate deep over Russia or China. So to say that it could go anywhere, anytime, is not accurate.

Aerial refueling. KC-135Q. Range was never an issue. Politics dictated that the SR-71 not overfly USSR. No one wanted another Gary Francis Powers.

Quoting UH60FtRucker (Reply 15):
The only reason people like ST7757, want shiny new SR-71 type aircraft, is because they can't see beyond the artificial glamour -- and look at military needs from a strategic level.

I think you are missing the point. Two types of reconnaissance. Strategic and tactical.

Want to know how close they are to finishing that nuclear reactor or how far along that new submarine is. That's strategic and while satellites can do most of it there still are cases where you need an aircraft to do it. This is something that flies very high, very fast and is stealthy. It is also very expensive and probably already very secretly flying.

Need to know what rock your favorite Taliban is hiding under or how many enemy tanks are moving up the road. Thats tactical and for that I think you hit the nail on the head. Use UCAVs. Preferably one that is slow, quiet and stealthy. Better yet if it can carry a Hellfire or two just in case it's operator finds something really special.

I think both are legitimate missions but they require two different types of platforms.
 
UH60FtRucker
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Tue Aug 26, 2008 8:15 am



Quoting Alien (Reply 18):
Aerial refueling. KC-135Q. Range was never an issue. Politics dictated that the SR-71 not overfly USSR. No one wanted another Gary Francis Powers.

How many tankers can you find over China or Russia?

It averaged 1200-1400nm range between tanker fills. So I simply pointed out that the claim of the SR-71 going anywhere/anytime is inaccurate.

Quoting Alien (Reply 18):

I think both are legitimate missions but they require two different types of platforms.

Build an unmanned reconnaissance aircraft. And no, I'm not talking about a Predator or a Global Hawk.

If we're going to build an entirely new aircraft for spying, then it ought to be unmanned. It's already been done with the Tu-123 in the 1960s!! It's not an impossible feat.

Just like in the thread discussing the tough situation the Navy is in, the Air Force also faces their own daunting budget crunch. Why spend billions of dollars on a manned reconnaissance aircraft, when an unmanned one can do the job just as well? Why risk the political nightmare of losing another pilot to enemy hands? Why ignore the fact that unmanned aircraft can do the job cheaper, easier and with less risk?

I'm not arguing that we ought to ditch the roll of the reconnaissance aircraft... but instead, arguing that the next generation ought to be unmanned.

-UH60
Your men have to follow your orders. They don't have to go to your funeral.
 
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Stitch
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Tue Aug 26, 2008 2:17 pm

The advantage of a smaller and stealthier program like "Dark Star (II)" is that it doesn't need speed because it can be based right next door to your area of operation so it doesn't need hours of ferrying and can do more then one single pass over the target area. And it can penetrate deeper into enemy airspace then a large, manned, high-speed platform.

I'm not sure you can make a Mach 6 manned penetrator stealthy. I imagine most radar-absorbing materials won't hold up to those temperatures and there is no way to mask the infrared signature of the frame and engines, so even if radar can't see it, infrared detectors will be able to, easily. And that infrared profile just makes the job of the seeker head of the missile sent after it that much easier.
 
Blackbird
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Tue Aug 26, 2008 8:34 pm

Less Risk?

Jeez, people are such wimps lately, not willing to take *any* risk over anything -- a hypersonic plane has very little odds of getting shot down manned or unmanned -- that probably would be the safest plane to fly in giving the other options.

Look we're all going to die anyway no matter how you cut it.


Blackbird
 
johns624
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Tue Aug 26, 2008 9:25 pm



Quoting Blackbird (Reply 21):
Jeez, people are such wimps lately, not willing to take *any* risk over anything

This from a person who's always worrying about her and her brother being drafted...
 
CX747
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Tue Aug 26, 2008 9:45 pm

I'm not quite sure where the confusion is on this issue. Has anyone against the SR-72 program clicked on an actual link?

One of the biggest issues I'm seeing is the fact that people don't want this platform to be manned. Well, if you read the article you would see that the SR-72 or Blackswift will be UNMANNED.
"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or timid." D. Eisenhower
 
UH60FtRucker
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Tue Aug 26, 2008 11:29 pm



Quoting Blackbird (Reply 21):
Less Risk?

Jeez, people are such wimps lately, not willing to take *any* risk over anything -- a hypersonic plane has very little odds of getting shot down manned or unmanned -- that probably would be the safest plane to fly in giving the other options.

I'm sorry Blackbird, but that comment required you to think a little more in depth.

The "risk" I spoke of, was not in regards to a pilot's safety, but the []i[]b]political[/b[/i] risks.

IE: A pilot getting shot down over central China, and the massive fallout that was occur, not to mention the media bonanza of a US pilot being paraded before the Chinese state run media, and tried for war crimes.

If you want to put an end to reconnaissance flights - have that happen.

-UH60
Your men have to follow your orders. They don't have to go to your funeral.
 
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par13del
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Wed Aug 27, 2008 12:36 am

I could be off base but I also thought the exclusivity of the SR71 went against it in the military world, small fleet, very few pilots, very few individuals involved in reviewing the data.
Now with UAV's there is a stream of data coming back in real time, much more people can be involved in viewing data.

I saw a piece on the Military channel of the Navy command centre in Dubai I believe, I was shocked at the room full of data screen's, imagine the number of officers, NCO's etc. looking in at real time of what's taking place, made me wonder about those marines who were watching real time the Iraqis' in Gulf War I rolling into Saudia Arabia and no one did anything about it, information overload?

Problem with UAV's presently are that they are too slw for real combat missions in a hostile environment, we watched Israeli drones flying unhindered over Lebanon. In Iraq and Afghanistan the predators essentially are unhindered, can you afford to establish air superiority before doing any tactical recon?
 
Blackbird
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Wed Aug 27, 2008 3:39 am

Johns624,

A draft is different, it is involuntary... the USAF is a voluntary service.


Blackbird
 
Alien
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Wed Aug 27, 2008 5:00 am



Quoting UH60FtRucker (Reply 24):

IE: A pilot getting shot down over central China, and the massive fallout that was occur, not to mention the media bonanza of a US pilot being paraded before the Chinese state run media, and tried for war crimes.

If you want to put an end to reconnaissance flights - have that happen.

Well said. I could not agree more. Talk about d..ck wagging. The Chinese would be wagging everything but the kitchen sink if that happened.
 
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par13del
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Wed Aug 27, 2008 10:32 am



Quoting UH60FtRucker (Reply 24):
IE: A pilot getting shot down over central China, and the massive fallout that was occur, not to mention the media bonanza of a US pilot being paraded before the Chinese state run media, and tried for war crimes

One reality is that there will be political fallout, main difference is that you will not have families in the US pressuring the govt. to recover remains or bring their pilot home, but you can bet that the a/c remains will be paraded around and the US in general will face political fallout as long as the a/c fell in their territory.

Case of dam** if you do, dam** if you don't.
 
UH60FtRucker
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Wed Aug 27, 2008 10:48 am



Quoting Blackbird (Reply 26):
A draft is different, it is involuntary... the USAF is a voluntary service.

I think the point he was making, was that you have the audacity to call the desire to not want to needlessly risk the lives of US aviators, as "wimpy."

...But you constantly express your fear of being called to duty.

I think the word is.... hypocrite. And you, of all people, have little place to criticize.

Quoting Par13del (Reply 25):
Problem with UAV's presently are that they are too slw for real combat missions in a hostile environment

Well if we were to commit to building a new reconnaissance aircraft, it would require a lot of money. And if we were willing to commit the amount of money needed to field a manned aircraft, then we could surely commit the less amount to field an unmanned aircraft.

The point being, it would be easier to build a hypersonic unmanned aircraft (in fact, we've already done that), than building a manned aircraft.

-UH60
Your men have to follow your orders. They don't have to go to your funeral.
 
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Stitch
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Wed Aug 27, 2008 3:08 pm

The old Martin Marietta Sprint ABM could go from 0 to Mach 10+ in a few seconds and could tag a target 100,000ft up 25nm down-range in under a minute. True, it used a 1kt W-66 nuclear warhead to do it, but that would mess-up a plane's day as easily as an incoming ICBM warhead.

And that was roughly four decades ago. I tend to think we could do better today, and I imagine so could Russia and China if they put their minds and money to it.
 
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STT757
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RE: Reconnaissance Aircraft Needed More Than Ever

Fri Aug 29, 2008 8:39 pm



Quoting UH60FtRucker (Reply 15):
The only reason people like ST7757, want shiny new SR-71 type aircraft, is because they can't see beyond the artificial glamour -- and look at military needs from a strategic level.

Hey did I ever state "manned". I stated High Speed, High Altitude but no where did I mention "manned".

Maybe you misread what I wrote, it would not be the first time.
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