Graham Warwick

The supersonic business jet being studied by Gulfstream and Lockheed Martin could incorporate stealth technology.

Lockheed Martin's famed Skunk Works believes it has found a way to reduce sonic booms - a major hurdle to overland supersonic flight.

The two US manufacturers are studying the possibility for a supersonic business jet of the future although both companies warn such an aircraft is many years away.


Lockheed Martin Aeronautics' president Micky Blackwell says the same shaping technology used to control radar reflections on the F-22 stealth fighter holds promise to diffuse the shockwaves created by the supersonic business jet (SSBJ).

"The Skunks believe they've found a way to reduce the sonic boom, at least for a small eight to 10 passenger aircraft about the size of a Gulfstream V," he says.

In the stealthy F-22, shaping is used to focus radar reflections from the airframe into a narrow beam, Blackwell says, reducing the chances that the energy will find its way back to the radar.

A similar technique could be used to prevent shockwaves from different parts of the SSBJ's airframe from coalescing, he says, and could reduce "by several decibels" the sonic boom heard on the ground.

Blackwell emphasises that it will be "some time" before an SSBJ becomes a reality. Not least, he says with some chagrin, because the company has discovered that supersonic flight overland by a civil aircraft is illegal in the USA.

"We'll have to do some work on that," he says.

Gulfstream announced it was teaming up with the Skunk Works at last year's Farnborough show, but stressed it was a long-term project. Now that the business jet manufacturer is to be acquired by defence giant General Dynamics, the chances of their being a "Gulfstream VI" - supersonic or subsonic - seem to have improved dramatically.

Source: Flight Daily News