Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works broke its silence on plans to build the SR-72, a hypersonic spy plane successor of the SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft.
The SR-72 will have a combined cycle propulsion system that combines a supersonic jet engine with a rocket engine, Lockheed Martin’s advanced aircraft division told Aviation Week. According to specifications, the SR-72 will be able to handle and exceed speeds of Mach 6.
“We’ve been saying hypersonics is two years away for the last 20 years, but all I can say is the technology is mature and we, along with DARPA and the services, are working hard to get that capability into the hands of our warfighters as soon as possible,” said Rob Weiss, Lockheed Martin’s executive vice president and general manager for Skunk Works, to Aviation Week.
DARPA and USAF have planned a hypersonic aircraft to succeed the SR-71 since the early 2000s, reports Popular Mechanics, but details have been kept under wraps since 2013, when USAF announced it had started a scaled successor to the famous aircraft.
Lockheed Martin reports they plan to fly a flight research vehicle (FRV) of the model in the early 2020s. They have plans to build an FRV the size of an F-22 that can be flown either manually or remotely. Due to the secrecy surrounding the program. it may not be until the 2020s that further details are available, reports Popular Mechanics.
This story was originally published on June 9, 2017.