From "International Herald Tribune", January 21, 1993:
U.S. SUPERPLANE: ANOTHER UFO TALE ?
by Malcolm W. Browne, New York Times Service
NEW YORK - Rumors and reported sightings of a secret American superplane have been spreading lately almost as abundantly as yarns about unidentified flying objects.
But despite the acknowledged yearning of many American aviation experts and buffs for an ultra-fast spy plane, it appears that development of even the engine needed for such a plane is moving faster in Russia than in the United States.
Advancing the case for wishful thinking, John E. Pike, an aviation expert, has written: "Belief in the existence of marvelously capable and highly secret aircraft resonates with some of the deeper anxieties of contemporary American society. Aviation has long been one of the distinguishing attributes of American greatness, but the declining fortunes of the American aerospace industry have created growing uncertainties about the future."
The possible existence of a new American intelligence-gathering plane capable of flying at eight times the speed of sound has been suggested in recent articles in the British periodical Jane's Defense Weekly, the American magazine Aviation Week & Space Technology and other respected technical publications.
These reports are based partly on sightings of large and unusually shaped airplanes, peculiar looking condensation trails left by high- flying aircraft, and strange rumbling sounds around the world.
Some experts say they believe the purported sightings of a hypersonic reconnaissance plane are credible in light of some mysterious Defense Departments budget items in the 1980s referring to a project called "Aurora".
Donald B. Rice, secretary of the air force, said last month that reports of such an aircraft were "fantasy."
William Sweetman, author of the report published in December by Jane's Defense Weekly, still believes in the existence of some kind of secret, high-speed spy plane.
"Many of these sightings were from highly qualified and credible observers," he said.
Meanwhile, Russia and its French aerospace partners have announced the successful test firing of a "scramjet" engine - an engine that operates at speeds starting at five times that of sound, and capable of boosting an airplane toward orbit outside the atmosphere.
The French-Russian test, as reported by Aviation Week & Space Technology, was carried out Nov. 17 in Kazakhstan.
(end of article)
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