The world’s fastest plane, the Lockheed Martin SR-72, is projected to conduct a flight test in 2025, eight years following initial private proposal in 2013.
The SR-72 will succeed the SR-71 Blackbird, the world’s fastest piloted aircraft, which broke speed records in 1974 before being withdrawn by the US Air Force in 1998.
The SR-72, or “Son of Blackbird,” is a recon, surveillance, and strike aircraft that will be unmanned, hypersonic, and reusable. The aircraft’s striking capability is highlighted because it will purportedly support Lockheed Martin’s revolutionary High-Speed Strike Weapon (HSSW). The aircraft’s combat skills allow it to strike its target in hazardous environments where slower manned planes would be at risk.
The project had to be delayed for several years since the technology to create the plane was overambitious when it was revealed in 2013.
The SR-72 is expected to reach a top speed of Mach 6, or 4,603 mph (7.400 kph), leaving it almost twice as fast as its predecessors and capable of eluding modern fighter fighters.
A revolutionary turbine-based combined cycle (TBCC) power technology is thought to be responsible for the large speed increase. This, paired with an existing dual-mode ramjet, would have allowed it to circumnavigate the world in a matter of hours, significantly faster than any other airliner.
While the stated progress, development, and production timetables remain hazy, Lockheed announced in late 2018 that an SR-72 prototype will fly before 2025, with the plane possibly entering service in the 2030s.
Hypersonic technology in airplanes has already been making headlines all around the world, as this is good news for Lockheed Martin. China’s hypersonic weapon launch in July, for example, took intelligence services, including the US Space Force, off surprise. Despite missing its intended objective, China’s supersonic technology is more advanced than that of any other country. China appears to be in front, but it still has a long road ahead to go to finish the championship.