September 01, 2012

Supersonic Flying Wings

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin thinks Russia should develop a hypersonic long-range bomber. Popular Science provides more in this article

Building a hypersonic bomber is too far a reach. Building a supersonic bomber is possible now. Here is a supersonic "fighter-bomber" being flown now at the recent USAF WSEP exercise (see this article from

I was reading this August 31 Ares blog entry from Aviation week that pointed to the articles below about supersonic flying wings. Maybe it's time to build a supersonic next generation bomber instead of subsonic flying wing based bomber.

This article on Yahoo News describes a bi-directional supersonic flying wing design from the University of Miami. The aircraft transforms in flight by turning 90 degrees. The aircraft looks like a star. The points of the star in one direction are designed for subsonic flight. The points of the stars in the other direction are arranged for supersonic flight. In 2009, Professor Zha, provided this presentation at the USAF Academic Outreach UAS Symposium. A bi-directional supersonic UAV.

This article from Innovation News Daily shows the supersonic flying wing design from an MIT and Stanford team. This design builds on work by German engineer Adolf Busemann. Busemann designed updated bi-planes. The problem is the two wings in the Busemann design create a narrow gap that only a limited amount of air can flow through. This gap creates drag which then prevents supersonic flight.  The MIT Stanford team designed a supercomputer model to simulate the Busemann biplane.

At various fixed speeds the team determined the best wing shape to minimize drag. Then the results from a dozen different speeds and 700 wing configurations were then used to determine the best shape for the upper and lower wings. The result is a configuration that cuts the amount of fuel needed to fly supersonically in half (compared to the Concorde airliner) and which minimizes the sonics boom.


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