The elusive avenger. Is it worth waiting for a hypersonic drone from the United States

The American company Lockheed Martin has been developing a new hypersonic aircraft for many years, which can reach speeds of up to Mach 6. Experts believe that this will be a drone that will carry hypersonic military weapons. However, so far the world has not seen the real result of the company’s work. Аиф.ги I understood the history of the creation of this aircraft and the prospects of ever seeing it in the air.

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Official images of the SR-72 aircraft show an integrated circuit machine with a bearing lower surface of the fuselage and wing, a triangular wing with long inflows and two engines in the nacelles. Experts suggest that this will be a heavy hypersonic UAV. It is proposed to make it a platform for hypersonic missiles, probably for strike purposes.

This is a fairly logical solution. Such a strike complex will be able to solve particularly complex tasks and will seriously increase the potential of long-range aviation. First of all, it will significantly reduce the time required to strike at the designated target. In addition, the probability of a successful breakthrough through the enemy’s air defense and missile defense increases.

According to Lockheed Martin, the new aircraft will be able to reach a speed of at least 5-6 Mach. 

However, the real prospects of the SR-72 can also be affected by the complexity of the project. It is obvious that such an aircraft, even taking into account the savings on mass production, will be record-breaking expensive. One one-time SR-72 technology demonstrator will cost just under one billion dollars to develop and produce.

The first flight of the SR-72 prototype took place at the airfield of the 42nd Repair Enterprise of the US Air Force in Palmdale, California. The headquarters of the Skunk Works division is also located there. During the first flight, the drone was accompanied by two T-38 Talon training aircraft. Details about the first tests are not disclosed.

So far, we can say one thing with confidence – the US Air Force and Lockheed Martin have spent a lot of money on developing something that may never see the light of day. But they sowed a lot of rumors and created an incredibly vague aura of mystery, mystery and belligerence around their activities. 

The mysterious story of the ghost plane

The first unofficial and unconfirmed reports about the SR-72 project, which Lockheed Martin engineers are working on, appeared back in 2007.

For the first time, the development was officially announced in 2013.The management of Lockheed Martin said that the new promising aircraft will be able to develop and maintain hypersonic speed. An official publication of the same year in the magazine Aviation Week & Space Technology stated that over the past few years, Lockheed Martin and related organizations have been engaged in various studies and created a scientific and technical foundation for the subsequent design of a new aircraft.

At the end of 2014, it became known about a new agreement between Lockheed Martin and NASA to conduct research on the topic of hypersonic propulsion systems. Apparently, these studies were successful. At the beginning of 2016, the company told about the upcoming technological breakthrough, which will allow developingspeeds up to 6 Mach. With a flight speed of Mach 6, the drone could take off from bases located in the continental United States and hit targets, flying across the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean in about an hour and a half. Let the plane be purely physically and vulnerable, but thanks to the speed it can quickly get out of the affected area.

At the beginning of 2018, it became known that the construction of the SR-72 has not even been launched yet. In addition, it was announced that in order to develop a machine with the declared characteristics, it is necessary to master a number of new technologies. What can I say – both military and commercial companies in all countries are able to fool their heads with promises and tell horror stories.

A few months later, Lockheed Martin said that the prototype aircraft will be built and will fly by 2025. Moreover, it will become a carrier of hypersonic military weapons, the company said. 

A little bit about the predecessor

The ancestor of the SR-72 is considered to be the American intelligence officer SR-71. It could reach a speed of up to 3500 km/h for a short time. This, combined with the high altitude of the flight, made the car practically invulnerable to any means of destruction that existed at that time. And it was still not a hypersonic, but just a very fast plane.  

Due to its characteristics, the reconnaissance aircraft could successfully break through the enemy’s air defense system. At the time of its appearance and for a long time, the SR-71 was indeed invulnerable. Its second name is “Blackbird”. The dimensions of the “Blackbird” are impressive: length & ndash; 32.74 m, wingspan & ndash; 16.94 m, height & ndash; 5.64 m, wing area & ndash; 141.1 sq. m.


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