Lockheed Martin unveils plans for new hypersonic spy plane

Sign up for a free trial of News Direct's animated news graphics at http://newsdirect.nma.com.tw/Reuters.aspx Lockheed Martin, the largest U.S. military contractor, on Friday unveiled plans for a new unmanned hypersonic spy plane dubbed the SR-72, according to a report by Reuters. The SR-72 is intended to succeed the now-retired SR-71 Blackbird, which was formerly a mainstay of the U.S. Air Force's spying and surveillance operations. The new aircraft would travel twice as fast as the supersonic Blackbird, reaching speeds of Mach 6, roughly 3,600 mph (5,800 km/h). At six times the speed of sound, the spy plane would be able to travel from New York to London in less than hour. Like its predecessor, the high-altitude plane would be able to outrun traditional surface-to-air missiles. "Speed is the next aviation advancement to counter emerging threats in the next several decades," wrote Brad Leland, Lockheed Martin's hypersonic programme manager, in a blogpost about the SR-72. "The technology would be a game-changer in theatre, similar to how stealth is changing the battlespace today." Lockheed Martin expects the SR-72 to be operational by 2030.
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