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Posts Tagged ‘supersonic cruise’

Supercruise

Posted by Picard578 on July 5, 2014

Definition and history

Beth Hagenauer from Dryden has defined supercruise as an ability to fly supersonically without using afterburner; USAF Flight Test Center at Edward Air Force Base defines supersonic speeds as being above Mach 1, without regard for transonic region (which is different for all aircraft – F-16s transonic region is from Mach 0,9 to Mach 1,1, and Gripen’s is even narrower). According to this definition, list of supercruisers is quite long. English Electric Lightning prototype exceeded Mach 1 on dry thrust on August 11, 1954, and could achieve Mach 1,22 without reheat. Term “supercruise” was actually first applied to the Lightning. Mirage IIIO with Avon engine was able to reach Mach 1,3 in 1962. F-104 Starflighter was capable of maintaining Mach 1,1 in level flight in military power, and in fact could maintain it for 15 minutes. A clean F-16 (that is, no external stores except two missiles at wingtip stations) can cruise at Mach 1,1. With 6 missiles, Gripen C can cruise at Mach 1,1, Gripen E at Mach 1,3, Rafale C at Mach 1,4, Typhoon at Mach 1,5. F-22 with 8 missiles can cruise at Mach 1,7. Tornado F3 is also capable of supercruise. As it can be seen, supercruise is nothing new or special.

But just the ability to fly at supersonic speed without afterburner is not enough if it does not give an operational advantage. Two to one advantage in cruise (or maximum) speed is of no use if it only lasts for half a minute. Read the rest of this entry »

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