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    Lockheed Martin’s SR-72: The ‘Son of Blackbird’

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    The SR-72, dubbed ‘Son of Blackbird’, is Lockheed Martin’s eagerly awaited hypersonic innovation.

    Following in the contrails of the historic SR-71 Blackbird, the SR-72 is not merely a successor but a revolutionary leap forward in aviation technology.

    With its projected debut in 2025. The SR-72 is rumored to be capable of reaching speeds over 4,000 mph and will likely use a combination of turbofan and scramjet engines.

    Even though it is no longer in service, the SR-71 “Blackbird” of the U.S. Air Force still holds several records.

    This reconnaissance aircraft remains the fastest ever to grace the skies worldwide.

    The SR-71 flew at speeds of just over Mach 3 and could operate at altitudes up to 85,000 feet.

    Its speed, altitude, and stealth design made it virtually unattackable.

    Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works, the famed division responsible for the SR-71, has been tasked with delivering its modern counterpart: the SR-72, also dubbed the ‘Darkstar’ in some circles.

    Lockheed Martin has openly discussed the design and concept of such an aircraft (but not for several years), although official details on its design, specifications, and roles are lacking.

    Such hypersonic speeds will, of course, require major developments in the previous engine technology.

    The commonly discussed propulsion system for such an aircraft is a combination of a standard turbofan jet engine (for lower speeds) and a supersonic combustion ramjet or ‘scramjet’ for hypersonic speeds.

    Brad Leland, Lockheed’s program manager, emphasized the strategic significance of hypersonic technology, stating, “Hypersonic aircraft, coupled with hypersonic missiles, could penetrate denied airspace and strike at nearly any location across a continent in less than an hour.”

    Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird port panorama (F-4 Corsair overhead)” by Chris Devers is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    adding that “Speed is the next aviation advancement to counter emerging threats in the next several decades.

    Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: P-40 Warhawk, SR-71 Blackbird, Naval Aircraft Factory N3N seaplane, Space Shuttle Enterprise” by Chris Devers is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    The technology would be a game-changer in theater, similar to how stealth is changing the battlespace today.”

    Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird port panorama (P-40 Warhawk overhead)” by Chris Devers is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    The prospect of such an aircraft has heightened tensions in the ongoing arms race, prompting parallel developments in sixth-generation fighter and bomber programs by global superpowers.

    Relevant articles:
    Son Of Blackbird: What Is The Lockheed Martin SR-72?, Simple Flying
    The 11 Fastest Planes in the World [#11 Hasn’t Been Produced Yet], pilotmall.com
    Lockheed Martin SR-72 Son of Blackbird or Darkstar: What We Know Right Now, The National Interest

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