Russians, Americans Collaborate on Research for Supersonic Plane

Article excerpt

While a Russian Army choir sang "America the Beautiful," the Russians Sunday unveiled the supersonic Tu-144, to serve as a flying laboratory for McDonnell Douglas Co. and several other American Cold War rivals.

The needle-nosed, delta-wing plane was emblazoned with American corporate logos: Boeing Co. and Rockwell International Corp. as well as McDonnell Douglas. The ceremony took place at this heavily guarded military airbase on the outskirts of Moscow.

In an unusual collaboration, Tupolev Design Bureau, a leading Russian aerospace organization, joined forces with the American aerospace industry to carry out research for a possible supersonic passenger plane for the 21st century.

Any aircraft that emerges from the collaboration may compete with those of the French and the British, who have already produced the Concorde supersonic transport. "It's ironic that former Russian and American bomber manufacturers are now working together on a civilian program," said Louis J. Williams, a specialist on high-speed flight for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which is financing the experiments. "At the same time, the competition with Europe is intensifying."

The Concorde has given the Europeans considerable experience in supersonic transport operations, and the Russian-American collaboration is intended to erase that advantage and perhaps give the United States a lead, American officials said. …