SR-72 – Scram Jet Exceeds Mach 6.2

Posted by Jack

Aircraft experts and military aficionados have cause to rejoice now that Lockheed Martin has debuted the SR-72 unmanned spy plane, the long-awaited successor to the SR-71 Blackbird and potentially the first hypersonic craft to enter service.  5 years ago this plane was an artist’s concept, now it’s a lot more.

Plans for the SR-72 drone were first unveiled Friday in an Aviation Week article which revealed that Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works advanced development program has drafted plans for a plane that could fly as fast as Mach 6 – twice the speed of the Blackbird.

The SR-72 would have the ability to gather intelligence, conduct surveillance and reconnaissance, and launch combat strikes at an unprecedented speed. The plane is designed to fill what is considered in military circles to be a gap in capabilities between the spy satellites orbiting Earth and the manned and unmanned technology meant to replace the SR-71.

The original Blackbird, which was introduced in 1966 and served until 1999, was primarily used by the US Air Force and NASA to collect intelligence through the Cold War. Along with flying at speeds fast enough to outrun a surface-to-air missile, the Blackbird also avoided enemy radar by flying at low altitudes. A total of 32 aircraft were built and, although 12 were lost to accidents, not a single one was lost to enemy combat.

Yet the sheer cost of replicating the Blackbird has prevented the US military from commissioning such a powerful weapon at a time when the Air Force has dominated international skies with the drone program.

But Lockheed Martin now believes it has encountered a technological breakthrough rendering the conversation around costs irrelevant.

Brad Leland, portfolio manager for air-breathing hypersonic technologies, said the crux of the new project hinges on an air breathing engine that combines the traditional turbine with a scramjet. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) explored the idea on previous projects but abandoned it because of cost.

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,” Leland said. “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.”

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15 Responses to SR-72 – Scram Jet Exceeds Mach 6.2

  1. Peggy says:

    Just shared this with Steve. He’ll be thrilled.

  2. Libby says:

    So how come you get all excited and approving over this vast expense of dubious worth … but you howl in outrage over our high-speed choo-choo?

    Why toys for a few, but not for the many?

    • Tina says:

      The simple answer: National defense, the one thing specifically called for in the Constitution as a federal obligation: “provide for the common defense.”

      Others who may wish to be fully informed will find the following of interest:

      Given the state of CA faces ridiculous debt (estimated at a possible $2.3 trillion), challenges that flow from it’s open arms policy of welcoming legal, illegal, and criminal migrants and their kids, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins that already eat 30% of the budget, One trillion in pension liability (there are 4 million current pension beneficiaries), $737-765 billion in unmet infrastructure needs, and a new governor promising universal healthcare, estimated to cost, “…as much as $400 billion a year.”

      source: Forbes: “…the demographer Joel Kotkin concluded that “the state is run for the very rich, the very poor, and the public employees.”

      California spends nearly $200 billion a year on budget and even more off-budget in the form of programs paid with bonds, i.e. debt financing. As for the pension debt, of that nearly $200 billion, in the most recent budget less than $2 billion was allocated to paying down that pension debt. More than that was spent this year on a high-speed rail project currently estimated to cost $70 billion and which no one seems to want.

      California is badly managed and has been for many years. The federal government has too but the federal government has the ability to print money (not the best way to operate but certainly a way to avoid responsible governance, like reforming the biggest debt driver programs)

      • Libby says:

        “The simple answer: National defense, ….”

        There’s something wrong with the spy planes we already got?

        And ain’t no super-spy plane gonna help with cyber threats to which we have serious exposure.

        You are just not thinking clearly about this stuff at all.

        • Tina says:

          Older spy planes: There’s nothing “wrong” with them, they are simply behind the curve, technologically speaking. China is zooming ahead and under a plan for world dominance…we’ve been here before. America requires a strong defensive presence in the world if we are to maintain our sovereignty and freedoms.

          I’m not an expert in cyber threats or spy planes so I don’t know whether they could “help” or not.

          You don’t either.

          I cannot fully appreciate what “The plane is designed to fill what is considered in military circles to be a gap in capabilities between the spy satellites orbiting Earth and the manned and unmanned technology” means.

          You can’t either.

          I do know maintenance and repairs were not kept up during the Obama years and I do know that anything built and not maintained loses it shelf life and reliability over time. That’s extremely wasteful and stupid.

          If we’re going to talk about the cost effectiveness and waste that derives from military spending let’s take a look at the cost effectiveness and waste in social…something the Constitution leaves to the states and the people. Federal programs do a lot of harm in that they cause too many of our able bodied citizens to live loves of dependency and low self worth. They maintain and increase poverty levels rather than lowering poverty levels. They are ripe for abuses of all kinds.

          There are better ways. it’s a real shame that your party and many in my party have become so married to them, so dependent on them for votes, that we cannot rethink and discover what will work.

    • Peggy says:

      “Toy”?! This plane is no toy Libs. The SR-71 was a recon only plane designed for national security. The SR-72, according to the article will also be able to carry weapons, so it’s a two-fer for the cost of one.

      I supported President Kennedy’s space race program. I also support the private sector taking over space programs the gov’t started. Musk’s SpaceX and Branson’s spaceships will accelerate our advancements far beyond what our gov’t would do on it’s own.

      I support limited gov’t financial support for a limited amount of time for the private sector. I do not support our tax dollars subsidizing private companies forever.

      Anyone with an IQ over 40 can figure out Moonbeam’s Bullet Train is doomed. No low or middle income person will be able to afford a ticket, unless it’s subsidized by gov’t. Tax, tax and tax even more every year forever.

      No high income level person will ride it when they can hop into their private jets and travel the same distance in an hour instead of hours or for most of a day. Those who will benefit will be the Feinsteins and other mega rich with insider knowledge. They’re the ones with the toys to play with and smile when they check their financial portfolios.


      Dianne Feinstein’s husband wins near-billion dollar California ‘high speed rail’ contract:

      “Just another day in Jerry Brown’s world of imaginary high-speed rail that is sure to cost at least twice what it is budgeted at (just south of a hundred billion dollars), take five hours for a journey that takes an hour or so by air, and which will have to charge much more than airlines do for the trip.”

      Tutor-Perini, the lead contractor controlled by Di-Fi’s hubby, has an (ahem) interesting history. From The National Black Chamber of Commerce:

      According to the New York US Attorney’s office: “Following a four-week trial, a federal jury in Brooklyn yesterday (March 9, 2011) found Zohrab B. Marashlian, the former president of Perini Corp.’s Civil Division, an international construction services corporation, guilty of fraud and conspiracy to launder money. The charges arose out of Marashlian’s false representation to New York government agencies that Disadvantaged Business Entities (DBE’s) were performing work in connection with major public works contracts, when, in reality, Marashlian had non-disadvantaged businesses favored by Perini Corp. do the work.” Tutor Perini paid Marashlian $14 million in salary while all this was going on. Two days before Marashlian was to receive a multi-year prison sentence he committed suicide. A fellow employee is currently doing a long prison term for the same case.

      Perini has been caught doing such things over and over again. They are absolutely ridiculous in California projects. … According to the Seattle News some of the Perini headlines read: “In February, Tutor-Saliba and Perini agreed to pay $19 million to settle racketeering and fraud allegations in a San Francisco airport project.” … “The companies are embroiled in an 11 – year legal battle over $16 million in extra costs on a Los Angeles subway job.”

  3. Tina says:

    Jack at first I thought this was one of your paintings.

    A good start on the challenges we will face going forward.

  4. Joe says:

    Scram jet??? Did they name it after Libby???

    If so I’m sure Libby will let us know because it’s impossible for her to shut her pie hole.

    When she goes to the beach, her tongue gets sunburned!

    And speaking of disgusting check out the testimony in that House hearing regarding the Clinton Foundation. If you don’t want to hear the blow hard politicians just skip to about 15:42 where the Judicial Watch guy is interviewed. The corruption of the Clintons is unfreaking believable. Old Bill and Hill were bought and paid for a hundred times over. It’s a real shame the work of this committee will go down the memory hole once it gets a new Demorat chairman when the Demorats take over the House in January.

  5. Joe says:

    The mainstream media will never report this. This is why you must see this in places like Postscripts.

    “Bombshell: FEC Records Indicate Hillary Campaign Illegally Laundered $84 Million”

  6. RHT447 says:

    For those who have not seen this (and for those who have, watch it again).
    Brian Shul–SR-71 Blackbird (Habu) pilot.

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