The SR72 Blackbird

The SR71 replacement

The SR-72 is Positioned to be the Successor of SR-71 BlackBird

Lockheed Martin broke silence today about the development of an unmanned hypersonic aircraft it is proposing for future reconnaissance and long-range strike missions. The company said it is ready to embark on the development of the SR-72 hypersonic unmanned aircraft that could enter service with the U.S. Air Force in 2030.

The proposed drone is positioned the follow-on to the Air Forces’ fastest known strategic reconnaissance aircraft – Mach 3 SR-71 ‘BlackBird’, developed by the legendary designer Clarence “Kelly” Johnson, the chief designer of the Lockheed skunk works in the early 1960s . Envisioned as an unmanned aircraft, the SR-72 would fly at speeds up to Mach 6, or six times the speed of sound. At this speed, the aircraft would be so fast, an adversary would have no time to react or hide.

via SR-72, a Hypersonic Drone is Positioned to be the Successor of SR-71 ‘BlackBird’ – Defense Update – Military Technology & Defense News.

SR72-Blackbird – Skunk Works Reveals SR-71 Successor

SR72-Blackbird - Skunk Works Reveals SR-71 Successor

SR72-Blackbird – Skunk Works Reveals SR-71 Successor

Skunk Works Reveals SR-71 Successor

Ever since Lockheed’s unsurpassed SR-71 Blackbird was retired from U.S. Air Force service almost two decades ago, the perennial question has been: Will it ever be succeeded by a new-generation, higher-speed aircraft and, if so, when?

That is, until now. After years of silence on the subject, Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works has revealed exclusively to AW&ST details of long-running plans for what it describes as an affordable hypersonic intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and strike platform that could enter development in demonstrator form as soon as 2018. Dubbed the SR-72, the twin-engine aircraft is designed for a Mach 6 cruise, around twice the speed of its forebear, and will have the optional capability to strike targets.

Guided by the U.S. Air Force’s long-term hypersonic road map, the SR-72 is designed to fill what are perceived by defense planners as growing gaps in coverage of fast-reaction intelligence by the plethora of satellites, subsonic manned and unmanned platforms meant to replace the SR-71. Potentially dangerous and increasingly mobile threats are emerging in areas of denied or contested airspace, in countries with sophisticated air defenses and detailed knowledge of satellite movements.

A vehicle penetrating at high altitude and Mach 6, a speed viewed by Lockheed Martin as the “sweet spot” for practical air-breathing hypersonics, is expected to survive where even stealthy, advanced subsonic or supersonic aircraft and unmanned vehicles might not. Moreover, an armed ISR platform would also have the ability to strike targets before they could hide.

Although there has been evidence to suggest that work on various classified successors to the SR-71, or some of its roles, has been attempted, none of the tantalizing signs have materialized into anything substantial. Outside of the black world, this has always been relatively easy to explain. Though few question the compelling military imperative for high speed ISR capability, the astronomical development costs have made the notion a virtual nonstarter.

But now Lockheed Martin believes it has the answer. “The Skunk Works has been working with Aerojet Rocketdyne for the past seven years to develop a method to integrate an off-the-shelf turbine with a scramjet to power the aircraft from standstill to Mach 6 plus,” says Brad Leland, portfolio manager for air-breathing hypersonic technologies. “Our approach builds on HTV-3X, but this extends a lot beyond that and addresses the one key technical issue that remained on that program: the high-speed turbine engine,” he adds, referring to the U.S. Air Force/Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) reusable hypersonic demonstrator canceled in 2008.

The concept of a reusable hypersonic vehicle was an outgrowth of Darpa’s Falcon program, which included development of small launch vehicles, common aero vehicles (CAV) and a hypersonic cruise vehicle (HCV). As structural and aerodynamic technologies for both the CAV and HCV needed testing, Lockheed Martin was funded to develop a series of unpowered hypersonic test vehicles (HTV).

In the midst of these developments, as part of a refocus on space in 2004, NASA canceled almost all hypersonic research, including work on the X-43C combined-cycle propulsion demonstrator. The Darpa HTV effort was therefore extended to include a third HTV, the powered HTV-3X, which was to take off from a runway on turbojet power, accelerate to Mach 6 using a scramjet and return to land.

Despite never progressing to what Leland describes as a planned -HTV-3X follow-on demonstrator that “never was,” called the Blackswift, the conceptual design work led to “several key accomplishments which we didn’t advertise too much,” he notes. “It produced an aircraft configuration that could controllably take off, accelerate through subsonic, supersonic, transonic and hypersonic speeds. It was controllable and kept the pointy end forward,” adds Leland.

Source – Skunk Works Reveals SR-71 Successor

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On December 22nd, 1964, the Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird” made its first flight. It was a Mach 3+ long-range and advanced strategic reconnaissance aircraft that had a unique mechanism to outrun threats. If a surface-to-air missile launch was detected, standard procedure was to just speed up and outrun the threat. Since the Blackbird was ultimately retired in 1998, most of us have wondered if the folks at Lockheed Skunk Works are ever going to work on a successor. Turns out, they have been working on a successor, dubbed the SR-72. It is described as an “affordable hypersonic intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and strike platform, one that can be developed in demonstrator form by 2018. The Blackbird was known for its speed and Skunk Works aims to build on that, actually, it wants to double that to be precise. The SR-72 is designed for Mach 6 cruise, meaning that it would be more than capable of outflying missiles. The successor is also designed to have the optional capability of striking targets. Skunk Works has worked with Aerojet Rocketdyne for the past seven years to develop a method that would cut down the costs of the SR-72 program by quite a margin, says Brad Leland, portfolio manage for air-breathing hypersonic technologies. The method is to integrate a conventional fighter-class turbine with a scramjet, making it capable enough to power the SR-72 from standstill to Mach 6 plus. The SR-72 will definitely be a game changer, seeing as how the ability to cruise and unleash hell on your adversaries at hypersonic speeds is definitely the next frontier in modern warfare. The aircraft is going to be so fast that adversaries won’t have enough time to hide their critical assets or even launch a retaliation if they don’t have similar technology. Even the SR-71 Blackbird has an unblemished track record during its decades of service, out of the 32 aircraft built only 12 were lost but none were downed by enemy action. An operational SR-72 unmanned aircraft may be over 100 ft long, the first flight research vehicle is expected to fly in 2023 whereas Leland believes that the Blackbird’s successor may enter full service by 2030.: http://www.ubergizmo.com/2013/11/sr-72-the-blackbird-successor-designed-for-mach-6-cruise/
On December 22nd, 1964, the Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird” made its first flight. It was a Mach 3+ long-range and advanced strategic reconnaissance aircraft that had a unique mechanism to outrun threats. If a surface-to-air missile launch was detected, standard procedure was to just speed up and outrun the threat. Since the Blackbird was ultimately retired in 1998, most of us have wondered if the folks at Lockheed Skunk Works are ever going to work on a successor. Turns out, they have been working on a successor, dubbed the SR-72. It is described as an “affordable hypersonic intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and strike platform, one that can be developed in demonstrator form by 2018. The Blackbird was known for its speed and Skunk Works aims to build on that, actually, it wants to double that to be precise. The SR-72 is designed for Mach 6 cruise, meaning that it would be more than capable of outflying missiles. The successor is also designed to have the optional capability of striking targets. Skunk Works has worked with Aerojet Rocketdyne for the past seven years to develop a method that would cut down the costs of the SR-72 program by quite a margin, says Brad Leland, portfolio manage for air-breathing hypersonic technologies. The method is to integrate a conventional fighter-class turbine with a scramjet, making it capable enough to power the SR-72 from standstill to Mach 6 plus. The SR-72 will definitely be a game changer, seeing as how the ability to cruise and unleash hell on your adversaries at hypersonic speeds is definitely the next frontier in modern warfare. The aircraft is going to be so fast that adversaries won’t have enough time to hide their critical assets or even launch a retaliation if they don’t have similar technology. Even the SR-71 Blackbird has an unblemished track record during its decades of service, out of the 32 aircraft built only 12 were lost but none were downed by enemy action. An operational SR-72 unmanned aircraft may be over 100 ft long, the first flight research vehicle is expected to fly in 2023 whereas Leland believes that the Blackbird’s successor may enter full service by 2030.: http://www.ubergizmo.com/2013/11/sr-72-the-blackbird-successor-designed-for-mach-6-cruise/
On December 22nd, 1964, the Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird” made its first flight. It was a Mach 3+ long-range and advanced strategic reconnaissance aircraft that had a unique mechanism to outrun threats. If a surface-to-air missile launch was detected, standard procedure was to just speed up and outrun the threat. Since the Blackbird was ultimately retired in 1998, most of us have wondered if the folks at Lockheed Skunk Works are ever going to work on a successor. Turns out, they have been working on a successor, dubbed the SR-72. It is described as an “affordable hypersonic intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and strike platform, one that can be developed in demonstrator form by 2018. The Blackbird was known for its speed and Skunk Works aims to build on that, actually, it wants to double that to be precise. The SR-72 is designed for Mach 6 cruise, meaning that it would be more than capable of outflying missiles. The successor is also designed to have the optional capability of striking targets. Skunk Works has worked with Aerojet Rocketdyne for the past seven years to develop a method that would cut down the costs of the SR-72 program by quite a margin, says Brad Leland, portfolio manage for air-breathing hypersonic technologies. The method is to integrate a conventional fighter-class turbine with a scramjet, making it capable enough to power the SR-72 from standstill to Mach 6 plus. The SR-72 will definitely be a game changer, seeing as how the ability to cruise and unleash hell on your adversaries at hypersonic speeds is definitely the next frontier in modern warfare. The aircraft is going to be so fast that adversaries won’t have enough time to hide their critical assets or even launch a retaliation if they don’t have similar technology. Even the SR-71 Blackbird has an unblemished track record during its decades of service, out of the 32 aircraft built only 12 were lost but none were downed by enemy action. An operational SR-72 unmanned aircraft may be over 100 ft long, the first flight research vehicle is expected to fly in 2023 whereas Leland believes that the Blackbird’s successor may enter full service by 2030.: http://www.ubergizmo.com/2013/11/sr-72-the-blackbird-successor-designed-for-mach-6-cruise/

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