Is America's Spy Plane Back — and Hypersonic?

Posted by K R on

The SR-71 Blackbird spy plane may be back and faster than ever. Or maybe not. Ambiguous wording at an aerospace-conference presentation last week suggested that the SR-72, a successor to the infamous Cold War spy plane, might already be in production, but neither the military nor the plane's possible maker, Lockheed Martin Corp., is talking. Bloomberg reported that Lockheed Vice President Jack O'Banion projected an artist's conception of the hypersonic SR-72 during a talk at the annual SciTech Forum of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in Florida on Jan. 8. Standing by the image of the sleek gray aircraft, O'Banion reportedly spoke about recent advances in computing and design and then said, "Without the digital transformation, the aircraft you see there could not have been made." The wording implies that the aircraft has, in fact, been made, as does O'Banion's later comments, also in the present tense. "We couldn't have made the engine itself — it would have melted down into slag if we had tried to produce it five years ago," O'Banion said, according to Bloomberg. "But now, we can digitally print that engine with an incredibly sophisticated cooling system integral into the material of the engine itself, and have that engine survive for multiple firings for routine operation."

Read More: LiveScience

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