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Lockheed Skunk Works Reveals Mach 6 SR-72
Lockheed Martin's famed Skunk Works has revealed plans for a new hypersonic spy plane that would be capable of flying at Mach 6, making it the fastest airplane ever and obviating the need for stealth technology because nothing on the planet would be capable of catching it.
Designed as a replacement for the super-speedy SR-71 Blackbird, Lockheed's SR-72 unmanned spy plane was revealed in an exclusive cover story in the current issue of Aviation Week. The story notes that the “Son of Blackbird” would achieve speeds twice as fast as the SR-71 using a new scramjet engine designed in partnership with Aerojet Rocketdyne.
The SR-72's development timeline calls for a prototype to fly by 2023, with initial deliveries to the Air Force by 2030.
Lockheed built the original Blackbird in the early 1960s after Gary Powers' U-2 spy plane was hit by surface-to-air missiles over the Soviet Union, a Cold War crisis that revealed the real need for faster airplanes and better spy capabilities. Built and tested at Groom Lake in Nevada, the SR-71 was designed to fly much faster than anything else in the sky, at speeds in excess of Mach 3.