With all the talk lately of hypersonic missiles and spacecraft, one highly advanced piece of technology might be quietly flying under the radar. Pun intended. Lockheed Martin is developing a new hypersonic plane, the SR-72. If they are successful, it will be the fastest plane in the world, capable of reaching speeds of Mach 6.
The recent discovery that China launched a hypersonic weapon over the summer, has the world buzzing. The launch caught everyone off guard, including the U.S. intelligence community. The Chinese hypersonic technology is more developed than anticipated or believed. However, it did miss its intended target. This suggests they still have a long way to go in the development of guidance systems, and likely guidance and avionics systems shielding. China downplayed the launch calling the missile a “space vehicle.”
The United States has been developing hypersonic weapons and capabilities for some time. It is the next logical step in weapons technology. In fact, while recent and next-generation fighters and bombers are experimenting with stealth, speed might actually be better.
Developing hypersonic planes will possibly be the “new stealth,” as stealth can potentially be defeated. Speed, however, requires such a huge jump in technology, it might take a lot of time and development for everyone else to catch up. Pun also intended.