Lockheed Martin is about to redefine spy planes.
In 2013, the company reported that they were working on the SR-72, a successor of the unparalleled SR-71 Blackbird spy plane.
The SR-71, originally developed in the 1960s, reaches speeds over 2,200 mph and redefined the aviation universe as the fastest plane on the planet while also setting the record for sustained altitude.
The SR-72 is expected to reach speeds over 14,500 mph and will be an “optionally piloted flight research vehicle” (FRV), ie it will be able to fly with or without a human pilot. The craft is expected to have an estimated length of approximately 60ft. The SR-72 is expected to be equipped with one single, full-scale engine and the ability to move at “ease” for several minutes at a speed of Mach 6.
Considering Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier on October 14, 1947 by hitting 1,650 mph in the Bell X-1, we have progressed almost tenfold in 80 years. But, should we have gotten here faster? Did the US government lose focus on supersonic technological progress?
The US government created the rocket-powered X-15 in the mid 1960s which was able to reach speeds surpassing Mach 6. In the last two decades the only notable speed record has been the X-43A which was able to touch a speech of Mach 9.6 in 2004.
If Lockheed Martin can actually accomplish this herculean task, then the SR-72 will be able to reach anywhere in the world within one hour.
This spacecraft is already being called “son of Blackbird,” and some believe that the plane already exists in secret. Of course that is mere speculation in aviation chat rooms.
Jack O’Banion, senior executive at Lockheed apparently stated “without digital transformation, the aircraft you see there could not have been made,” while presenting on the SR-72 at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ annual SciTech Forum.
Jack O’Banion is second from right.
One firm’s idea behind a potential engine for the SR-72 where: “The aircraft would take off on turbine power, then ignite the ejector ramjet to push through the transonic drag rise and accelerate to the take-over speed for the dual-mode ramjet”
If the SR-72 is successful, then it will be capable of carrying weapons that can target regions from the edge of space.
According to Gizmodo, the SR-72 will be equipped with a twin-engine, a long term hypersonic road map, and intelligence provided from satellites.
Given the tense geopolitical climate, O’Banion’s reference to the SR-72 may have been a collaboration with the US government to send an indirect message to caution US enemies while establishing a new level of US military dominance in the air and in space.
Now with the onset of Coronavirus and the US government spending trillions of dollars bailing out the economy, will there be enough funds to complete the research? Or has the research already been completed?
There have been rumors that the Hollywood movie Top Gun 2 starring Tom Cruise has a scene that alludes to a potential SR-72 craft.
Though numerous media outlets have reported on the story, there have been no confirmations regarding whether the scene was a result of a military leak.