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Lockheed Martin Developing SR-72 Blackbird, The Successor To SR-71 Blackbird

The SR-71 Blackbird is an advanced, long-range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft built by aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin. Now the company is developing the successor to SR-71 Blackbird.

Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird

The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird was developed as a black project from the Lockheed A-12 reconnaissance aircraft in the 1960s by Lockheed and its Skunk Works division. During reconnaissance missions, the SR-71 operated at high speeds and altitudes to allow it to outrace threats. If a surface-to-air missile launch was detected, the standard evasive action was simply to accelerate and outfly the missile. Since 1976, it has held the world record for the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft. The SR-71 served with the U.S. Air Force from 1964 to 1998. A total of 32 aircraft were built; 12 were lost in accidents, but none lost to enemy action. The last SR-71 Blackbird was crashed in 1998.

However, lately Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works has revealed that it is building SR-72, the successor to the SR-71 Blackbird. The company will use a new hypersonic engine for SR-72 that combines turbines and ramjets. Each engine shares combined inlets and nozzles connected to two very different powerplants as a way to significantly reduce drag. The upper engine is a turbine, which is used to power the SR-72 as it takes off from a conventional runway and accelerates it to Mach 3. Then the lower dual-mode ramjet takes over and accelerates the plane to Mach 6. This unmanned SR-72 will be able to move two times faster than its predecessor, SR-71.

Brad Leland, Lockheed Martin program manager, Hypersonics has said, “Hypersonic aircraft, coupled with hypersonic missiles, could penetrate denied airspace and strike at nearly any location across a continent in less than an hour. Speed is the next aviation advancement to counter emerging threats in the next several decades. The technology would be a game-changer in theater, similar to how stealth is changing the battle space today.”

The SR-72 program is meant to dovetail with the Pentagon’s hypersonic research and weapons programs, which has dictated the timetable and many design parameters. In other words, the SR-72’s purpose is to provide the United States with not only a hypersonic recon platform, but also a strike aircraft as well.

The SR-72 Blackbird is scheduled to fly by 2030.

Sources: Lockheed MartinAviation Week

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Anatol Rahman is the Editor at TheTechJournal. He loves complicated machineries, and crazy about robot and space. He likes cycling. Before joining TheTechJournal team, he worked in the telemarketing industry. You can catch him on Google+.

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