If you're anything of an aircraft enthusiast you'll know all about the SR-71 spy plane—it really was the most ridiculously advanced piece of flying technology, a legend in its own lifetime. If you're not an aircraft enthusiast, then read on because you'll still be impressed. Now is the moment to meet the SR-72, the future successor to the Blackbird—faster, higher, and more astonishing.
Revealed exclusively to AviationWeek by manufacturer Lockheed itself, the
SR-72 is also called Blackbird, and it's being developed to fill a gap in the military and intelligence gathering networks that satellites can't fix: Fast, safe, high-altitude surveillance that can flit to a danger spot anywhere on the planet in a jiffy. Or with a huge thundercrack of hypersonic booms actually, because the SR-72 is said to have innovative engines so it can fly at Mach 6, twice its predecessor's limit. Oh, and as well as all sorts of typical optical, radar, electronic, and other sensors it'll also carry weapons. The SR-72 could fly as a technology demonstrator as soon as 2018.
And if you're wondering what all the fuss is about, then watch the video of the SR-71 below. This aircraft was made with new materials that hadn't been worked into an airframe before, and it pushed the boundaries of manufacturing tech in ways that will have subtly influenced many pieces of consumer gear. It was the first slightly "stealthy" plane. It navigated by spotting stars and flew so fast it could outrun bullets and missiles. At top speed it could take a whole country's length to slow down.