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The Story of Secret SR-91 Aurora hypothesized aircraft design to replace the SR-71 Blackbird

The Story of Secret SR-91 Aurora hypothesized aircraft design to replace the SR-71 Blackbird

SR-91 Aurora aircraft design was a rumored mid-1980s American reconnaissance aircraft. It is believed that SR-91 Aurora is capable of hypersonic flight at speeds of Mach 5+.

According to the hypothesis, Aurora was developed in the 1980s or 1990s as a replacement for the aging and expensive SR-71 Blackbird.

Aurora also known as SR-91 Aurora is the popular name for a hypothesized American reconnaissance aircraft, believed by some to be capable of hypersonic flight at speeds of Mach 5+.

According to the hypothesis, Aurora was developed in the 1980s or 1990s as a replacement for the aging and expensive SR-71 Blackbird.

Here is a Documentary on SR-91 Aurora – Does it Exists?

 

Related Article: SR-91 Aurora aircraft – hypersonic reconnaissance aircraft – Mach 5+ fighter jet

The Aurora legend started in March 1990, when Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine broke the news that the term “Aurora” had been inadvertently included in the 1985 U.S. budget, as an allocation of $455 million for “black aircraft production” in FY 1987.

According to Aviation Week, Project Aurora referred to a group of exotic aircraft, and not to one particular airframe. Funding of the project allegedly reached $2.3 billion in fiscal 1987, according to a 1986 procurement document obtained by Aviation Week. In the 1994 book Skunk Works, Ben Rich, the former head of Lockheed’s Skunk Works division, wrote that the Aurora was the budgetary code name for the stealth bomber fly-off that resulted in the B-2 Spirit.

By the mid-1990s reports surfaced of sightings of unidentified aircraft flying over California and the United Kingdom involving odd-shaped contrails, sonic booms, and related phenomena that suggested the US had developed such an aircraft. Nothing ever linked any of these observations to any program or aircraft type, but the name Aurora was often tagged on these as a way of explaining the observations.

An artist's conception of the Aurora aircraft
An artist’s conception of the Aurora aircraft Via Wikipedia 

Related Article: List of Top 15 Secret Military Aircraft projects in history

The well-known instance which provides evidence of such an aircraft’s existence is the sighting of a triangular plane over the North Sea in August 1989 by oil-exploration engineer Chris Gibson.

In another incident of the famous “sky quakes” heard over Los Angeles since the early 1990s, found to be heading for the secret Groom Lake (Area 51) installation in the Nevada desert, numerous other facts provide an understanding of how the aircraft’s technology works. Rumored to exist but routinely denied by U.S. officials, the name of this aircraft is Aurora.

The outside world uses the name Aurora because a censor’s slip let it appear below the SR-71 Blackbird and U-2 in the 1985 Pentagon budget request. Even if this was the actual name of the project, it would have by now been changed after being compromised in such a manner.

The plane’s real name has been kept a secret along with its existence. This is not unfamiliar though, the F-117a stealth fighter was kept a secret for over ten years after its first pre-production test flight.

Related Article: Here’s list of Abandoned and Declassified Black Projects

The project is what is technically known as a Special Access Program (SAP). More often, such projects are referred to as “black programs.”

On 6 March 1990, one of the United States Air Force’s Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird spyplanes shattered the official air speed record from Los Angeles to Washington’s Dulles Airport.

There, a brief ceremony marked the end of the SR-71’s operational career. Officially, the SR-71 was being retired to save the $200-$300 million a year it cost to operate the fleet. Some reporters were told the plane had been made redundant by sophisticated spy satellites.

A British Ministry of Defence report released in May 2006 refers to USAF priority plans to produce a Mach 4-6 highly supersonic vehicle, but no conclusive evidence had emerged to confirm the existence of such a project.

It was believed by some that the Aurora project was canceled due to a shift from spy-planes to high-tech unmanned aerial vehicles and reconnaissance satellites which can do the same job as a spy plane, but with less risk of casualties.

In June 2017, Aviation Week reported that Rob Weiss, the General Manager of the Skunk Works, provided some confirmation of a research project and stated that hypersonic technology was now mature, and efforts were underway to fly an aircraft with it.

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