Has Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works already produced the mysterious SR-72 and is it a drone? Did VP of Skunk Works Jack O’Bannion, slip up when his recent comments suggest it may have already been built?

 

For years, Lockheed Martin Corp. has been developing a successor to one of the fastest aircraft the world has seen, the SR-71 Blackbird, the Cold War reconnaissance craft that the U.S. Air Force retired almost three decades ago. Lockheed officials have said the hypersonic SR-72—dubbed the “Son of Blackbird” by one trade journal—could fly by 2030.

Here's what we know about the SR-72, Lockheed's Mach 6 Blackbird successor

Read Next: Here's what we know about the SR-72, Lockheed's Mach 6 Blackbird successor

“We couldn’t have made the engine itself—it would have melted down into slag if we had tried to produce it five years ago,” O’Banion said. “But now we can digitally print that engine with an incredibly sophisticated cooling system integral into the material of the engine itself and have that engine survive for multiple firings for routine operation.” The aircraft is also agile at hypersonic speeds, with reliable engine starts, he said. A half-decade before, he added, developers “could not have even built it even if we conceived of it.” – Bloomberg Technology

“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, Hypersonics.

“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 battlespace today.” – Lockheed Martin

Featured image by Lockheed Martin

sr-72