We all want to get to our next destination as quickly as possible these days, but in the future the SR-72 jet could take that to another dimension if it gets off the drawing board. The mind-blowing, though unfortunately unmanned, jet idea was dreamt up by boffins at Lockheed Martin’s research department, known as ‘skunk works’, which has drawn up plans for the new hypersonic aircraft.
If successful, the first prototype could be hurtling through the upper atmosphere in 2018, although it might be another fifteen years after that before an operational version could be available.
The SR-71 Blackbird has been the fastest jet in history
The amazing machine is seen as the natural successor to the SR-71 Blackbird, which in itself is an incredible feat of engineering and still the fastest aircraft built to date. If successful, the project could transform the future of aerial combat, with the SR-72 projected to reach speeds of 4500mph or more, which is a mind-blowing Mach 6.
To do this, the craft would utilise an engine design that Lockheed Martin would base around the combined cycle propulsion concept. This amalgamates a turbine and ramjet to produce an engine that can deliver formidable amounts of power.
The SR-72 would outclass Concorde but would also be unmanned
Rocket specialists Aerojet Rocketdyne are already on-board, working with the US Air Force to produce a prototype, one that could have all sorts of ramifications for the future of our airspace. An aircraft such as this would also be able to gather intelligence very rapidly, which could give the military a distinct advantage over any future enemies.
“Hypersonic aircraft, coupled with hypersonic missiles, could penetrate denied airspace and strike at nearly any location across a continent in less than an hour,” said Brad Leland, Lockheed Martin program manager, Hypersonic. “Speed is the next aviation advancement to counter emerging threats in the next several decades. The technology would be a game-changer in theatre, similar to how stealth is changing the battlespace today.”