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Lockheed Martin Unveils Mach 6 SR-72

Son of Blackbird

November 14, 2013 - Lockheed Martin's famed Skunk Works unveiled plans November 1 to construct a new aircraft able to fly at Mach 6 (about 4,500 mph) - or twice as fast as the venerable Cold War spy platform, the SR-71 Blackbird. Nicknamed "Son of Blackbird" by Aviation Week magazine, the SR-72 will be powered by an off-the-shelf turbine with a supersonic combustion ramjet air-breathing jet engine. Lockheed says the airplane could be operational by 2030.

Engineer Brad Leland, who has led the seven-year research effort, said the airplane will be able to reach any target in the world within an hour. At that speed, the SR-72 would be so fast, an adversary would have no time to react or hide, so it has no need for actual stealth technology.

"Hypersonic is the new stealth," Leland said. "[The SR-72] is a game changer."

The SR-71, which made its last flight in 1990, continues to reign as the fastest and highest-flying manned aircraft ever. More details on the SR-72 project are available on the Lockheed Martin website.

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