Hypersonic Successor To Legendary SR-71 Blackbird Spy Plane Unveiled

 

 

 

 

 

” Lockheed Martin’s famed Skunk Works has finally unveiled the long-awaited successor to the SR-71 Blackbird. Aviation Week and Space Technology’s Guy Norris pulled the covers off the project that Lockheed Martin is simply calling the SR-72. The new airplane will be roughly the same size as the record-setting Blackbird, but will be able to fly twice as fast as the jet that still holds the speed records.

The new spy plane will be capable of Mach 6 cruise speeds, making it the first hypersonic aircraft to enter service should it be produced. Only the rocket-powered North American X-15 was able to regularly fly those speeds, and the three examples built were used for research. The SR-71 Blackbird is legendary in aviation circles for its Mach 3 capabilities, and different iterations served as a spy plane for 35 years until its retirement in 1998. It still holds several records, including a flight from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. in 64 minutes, 20 seconds.

The new SR-72 has long been rumored and debated, and is part of the U.S. Air Force’s plan for hypersonic capabilities that will allow fast reaction for gathering intelligence around the world. A Mach 6 airplane fills the gap between current surveillance aircraft that can loiter for long periods of time, but don’t have the ability to transit to a new area quickly. The SR-72 is also expected to have optional strike capabilities, according to Aviation Week.”