The U.S. Air Force has a 370-foot-long surveillance airship sitting in a hangar in North Carolina right now, 95% complete. In two weeks, the blimp will be ready to fly, just in time for the USAF to scrap the entire program, dismantle the hardware, and pack it all into shipping containers for storage. Sigh.
Blimps had their heyday between World War I and World War II, and since then, they've more or less been left behind by the airplane. Some things, though, blimps are just plain better at, and the Army is getting ready for the first flight of their "Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle," aka "spy blimp."
It's not an easy proposition to design a novel light aircraft from the ground up. In the case of Synergy, even Kickstarter wasn't willing to give it a shot until fans of the project got the crowdsourcing site to reconsider. Now, Synergy is $50,000 away from crossing that dangerous gap between concept and reality.
The United States has the F-22. Russia has the Sukhoi T-50. And now, a series of recent pics shows that China has begun testing a second prototype of its own fifth-generation stealth aircraft, the Chengdu J-20.
We won't blame you for not keeping track of Scandinavian military anniversaries. That's our job. This year happens to be the 100th anniversary of the Norwegian Air Force, and it's celebrating by giving one of its F-16s a fancy new paint job and shoving it up the backside of a C-130 Hercules in flight.
Flying aircraft carriers are staples science fiction and steampunk. It's an idea that sounds like it would be completely crazy in reality, but it's not crazy enough to keep the Air Force commissioning a report on the idea from Boeing back in 1973.
How do you make a 747 go faster? Simple: just stick another engine on it and add a button that says "turbo" in big red letters. YEEEAAAHHH!!!
Ten years ago, Boeing was trying to figure out whether the next step in air travel was increased speed or increased efficiency. The 787 Dreamliner should clue you in to what the decision was, but the increased speed option is not entirely off the table, and a new patent filed just last month might mean that Boeing's "Sonic Cruiser" is still alive and kicking.
No, it's not the plot of some ridiculous new low-budget action movie: the House Armed Services Committee's Strategic Forces panel has asked the Missile Defense Agency to figure out how much it'll cost to unscrap the Airborne Laser Testbed and put it into action against the North Korean ballistic missile threat.
The Supermarine Spitfire is arguably one of the most beautiful flying machines ever constructed, but today, only about 35 remain in flying condition. That number may soon increase by a full dozen, if the Brits can manage to dig up a bunch of aircraft that have been buried somewhere in Burma since 1945.