In 1976, US Air Force SR-71 Blackbird crews flew from New York to London in less than two hours, reaching speeds in excess of Mach 3 and setting world records that have held up for nearly four decades. But according to Lockheed Martin, those world records may soon bite the dust. Today, engineers at the aerospace firm’s famous Skunk Works are developing a hypersonic aircraft that will fly at twice the speed of the SR-71. It’s called the SR-72 (which would seem to make sense).
The SR-71 was developed using 20th century technology, by engineers using slide rules and paper. It wasn’t managed by millions of lines of software code and it wasn’t powered by computer chips. All of that changes with the SR-72. Envisioned as an unmanned aircraft, this warplane would fly at speeds up to Mach 6, or six times the speed of sound. At that kind of speed, the aircraft would be so fast that an adversary has no time to react or hide.
Says Lockheed Martin’s Brad Leland: “Hypersonic aircraft, coupled with hypersonic missiles, could penetrate denied airspace and strike at nearly any location across a continent in less than an hour.” Take that, you sabre-rattling foreigners.