Does the SR72 actually exist? Is it practical or even possible? Lockheed Martin says they can produce a demonstrator by 2018, and they’ve been working on it since 2013. But many don’t believe it can do what Lockheed says, nor do they think the US will ever need one based on the technology that is now available. Some people in California even believe they have seen the first ‘demonstrator vehicle’ as recently as July, 2017.
The SR71 Blackbird was a US Spy Plane that was used for recon missions over Vietnam. It served from 1964-1998, doing recon missions in various places. Only 32 of them were built, 12 of which crashed, but not one was lost from enemy action. It was too fast at over Mach 3. The SR72 is purported to be even faster at Mach 6.
Foxtrot Alpha reported (read more at the link),
If you stationed these aircraft at two bases, each halfway around the globe from the other, they could theoretically hit any target within just over an hour and a half after launch. This is an insanely impressive capability, but in order to do so you have to create a way to chuck a guided munition out of an aircraft traveling at over mach five. Now you have a whole separate high-risk, high-cost munitions development program going on in parallel to developing the jet. Forget about slowing down to drop something—that defeats the whole purpose.
So we have to have new weapons in development that can be launched from an aircraft that is moving at Mach 6… which means over 3,800 MPH. Does that capability exist? Plus developing a camera that can do what is required of it at such high speeds.
Lockheed Martin’s “Skunk Works” in Burbank states that the SR72 Spy Plane will be primarily unmanned, though a cockpit will provide a spot for a human operator when necessary. If so, it would mean that plane could spy on places around the world so fast that no country would be able to catch it. It could fly from California to North Korea in an hour and a half. But “spying” that fast could prove problematic, since we have spy satellites now that can produce images of whatever we need without endangering an expensive plane.
They said it will be able to takeoff and land without a launch vehicle like that used for the Space Shuttle. It has a hybrid engine concept.
One of the main drawbacks of a hypersonic aircraft is the heat generated by such high speeds. The heat signature would be tremendous at Mach 6, which some feel would be a giant sized drawback to any “stealth” technology on board the aircraft. IF a plane traveled that fast, would the heat signature even matter, since the in and out time would be so fast an enemy would have no time to react?
But has Lockheed Martin found a solution to the heat issue? The project has been wrapped in secrecy, so perhaps there is something we don’t know about at work.
Then there’s the cost- Lockheed Martin says they can build the demonstrator for a mere $1 Billion that would be about the size of an F-22. An F35 costs $100 million PER PLANE. So building a fleet of hypersonic jets would be pretty steep for the cash-strapped Defense Department.
But you have to admit- it’s an exciting concept.
“Hypersonic aircraft, coupled with hypersonic missiles, could penetrate denied airspace and strike at nearly any location across a continent in less than an hour. 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.” Brad Leland, Lockheed Martin program manager, Hypersonics.