Lockheed Martin has begun development of the successor to the SR-71. Here's 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know about this exciting new aircraft.
1. The Plane Will be Manufactured by Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works
The SR-71 Blackbird's developer will return to work on the hypersonic successor to the SR-71. It is currently unknown whether the aircraft will be manned or unmanned.
Skunk Works told Guy Norris of Aviation Week
[It's] an affordable hypersonic intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and strike platform that could enter development in demonstrator form as soon as 2018.
2. The SR-72 May Be Able to Go Twice as Fast as the SR-71
The new aircraft may be able to go up to six times the speed of sound, yet, simultaneously be able to work like a traditional aircraft and land on standard runways.
The plane is part of the USAF's "long-term hypersonic road map," and is designed to fill what are perceived by US Military defense planners as "growing gaps in coverage of fast-reaction intelligence."
In other words, it will hit harder and faster than anything before it.
3. Lockheed Worked Together with Aerojet-Rocketdyne for Seven Years to Develop the Concept
The new engine that will permit for these insane speeds is described by Aviation Week (currently down) as "integrating an off-the-shelf turbine with a scramjet to power the aircraft from standstill to Mach 6."
4. The Aircraft Will Be Used for Recon and Strike Capabilities
Skunk Works also told aviation week that the aircraft would be capable of striking.
They envision a role of ISR, a military acronym for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. Apparently, however, the plane will also deliver munitions. The speed is an advantage as it reduces the needs for projectiles to have a "booster," since they're already going Mach 6.
Referring to the plane's lightning fast predecessor he said "at Mach 3, there was still time to notify that the plane was coming, but at Mach 6, there is no reaction time to hide a mobile target."
In other words, the SR-72 will be an undetectable, insanely fast, missile-firing beast.
5. Hype for Information About the Aircraft Brought Down Aviation Week's Website
The magazine is set to have a large feature about the aircraft in its November 5th issue.