Lockheed’s SR-72: The Hypersonic Game-Changer for the US Air Force
The US Air Force may soon get their hands on the world’s fastest aircraft ever – the top-secret SR-72 hypersonic jet under development by Lockheed Martin.
Nicknamed the “Son of Blackbird,” the SR-72 is the proposed successor to Lockheed’s famous SR-71 spy plane that retired in 1998. Like its reconnaissance predecessor, the unmanned SR-72 aims to push speed limits to new extremes.
How extreme? Try over 4,000 mph, or six times the speed of sound! That would smash all airspeed records, allowing the SR-72 to zip across continents in 90 minutes. Perfect for urgent intelligence-gathering and lightning-fast airstrikes.
Of course, sustaining such outrageous velocity requires bleeding-edge propulsion tech. That’s why Lockheed is engineering combined turbofan-scramjet engines for the SR-72.
See, ordinary jet turbines max out around Mach 3. Scramjets, however, enable hypersonic speeds above Mach 5 by using supersonic airflow for combustion. The tricky part is switching between the two modes seamlessly.
If Lockheed pulls it off, the SR-72 would leapfrog from runway to hypersonic velocity using turbofans, then kick in the scramjets to maintain cruise speeds beyond Mach 6 indefinity.
Plus, the aircraft is slated to launch hypersonic missiles, adding lethal strike capacity. Its speed and firepower will be game-changing, letting the Air Force penetrate enemy defenses that current aircraft simply can’t.
Lockheed aims to fly a demonstrator SR-72 as early as 2025. With the Pentagon prioritizing hypersonic tech, operational models could follow shortly after.
Of course, hypersonic missiles are destabilizing, raising war tensions. But America can’t cede the high ground. If the “Son of Blackbird” takes wing, adversaries will need to think twice about escalating conflicts. The SR-72’s fearsome velocity gives the US an edge few can rival.