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Take a peek at the hypersonic spy plane

Lockheed Martin has finally revealed “the son” of the “legendary” and “unsurpassed” Blackbird spy plane, Aviation Week reports. When experts caught sight of the SR-72, they went into an adjectival overdrive. The new hypersonic jet would be the “most exotic airplane ever constructed,” Foreign Policy says. The Washington Post’s Switch blog called the offspring a “gorgeous” boy.

What makes it so special?

  • sr72It will be a drone.
  • It will be capable of Mach 6 cruise speeds. “Speed is the new stealth,” according to Al Romig, Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works engineering and advanced systems vice president. (The Blackbird, which was retired in 1998, could do a mere Mach 3. It famously flew from L.A. to D.C. in 64 minutes, 20 seconds. Take that, Ed Bolian, for a coast-to-coast record.)
  • Its propulsion will combine regular turbine engines, which will get it to supersonic speeds so that the scramjet can take over. Modifying the the supersonic-combustion scramjet to adapt to a lower takeover speed was an engineering breakthrough, Brad Leland, portfolio manager for air-breathing hypersonic technologies, tells Aviation Week.
  • It will have strike capability like something out of a comic book or a sci-fi movie. It will move so fast, more agile targets won’t have a chance to hide.
  • It looks cool.  
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