The U.S. military has had dreams of hypersonic platforms for many years now with China and Russia racing to make those dreams into reality. But did a Mach 5 plane already exist years ago and we knew nothing about it? Meet the SR-91 Aurora: 

Rumors of a classified hypersonic aircraft known as Aurora have permeated aviation circles since the 1980s, but evidence of this triangular jet remains as sparse as ever. Could it be possible that the United States not only managed to develop and operate a fleet of Mach 5+ aircraft in the 1980s but has continued to keep them a secret to this day? The truth may actually be a bit more complicated than you might think.

Still commonly referred to as “Black Programs,” the Pentagon has a long history of funding the classified development of advanced technologies. Today, the most secretive efforts fall under Special Access Programs or SAPs, which limit the distribution of information even among those with the highest level of security clearances. Even some acknowledged SAPs are never fully revealed, even years after completion, and some SAPs are never acknowledged at all.

After pouring over historic media reporting, declassified documents, eyewitness accounts, and more forum posts than you could photograph from the U-2, it seems extremely unlikely that the United States ever had an operational fleet of secret hypersonic aircraft… but that doesn’t mean something like it never darkened the massive hangar doors at Area 51.

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