- Supersonic aircraft
aviation, a supersonic aircraft is one that is designed to exceed the speed of sound in at least some of its normal flight configurations.
The great majority of supersonic aircraft today are military or experimental aircraft. Most of them, including many military
fighter aircraft, are designed to exceed the speed of sound only in certain exceptional flight regimes; a handful of aircraft, such as the SR-71 Blackbirdmilitary reconnaissance aircraft and the Concorde supersonic civilian transport, are designed to cruise continuously at speeds above the speed of sound.
Supersonic flight brings with it substantial technical challenges, as the aerodynamics of "supersonic" flight are dramatically different from those of "subsonic" flight ("i.e.," flight at speeds slower than that of sound). These challenges have largely been met. However, political, environmental, and economic obstacles of greater magnitude continue to severely limit the actual deployment of supersonic aircraft, particularly in the civilian world. Additionally, the need and demand for supersonic flight have often been insufficient to justify development or deployment of supersonic aircraft, particularly in the domain of civilian transport. The aforementioned SR-71 and Concorde aircraft are no longer flying today because of multiple problems and impracticalities associated with supersonic flight.
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