Hypersonic SR-72 Demonstrator Reportedly Spotted at Skunk Works 2022

Hypersonic SR-72 Demonstrator Spotted at Skunk Works: Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Program, known as Skinwork, may have gone much further into the SR-72’s development process. A proposed hypersonic reconnaissance and strike aircraft, the SR-72 will serve as a replacement for the popular SR-71 Blackbird, which was retired by the Air Force in 1998.

In June, Lockheed announced early progress on the program, and now a source told Aviation Week that they saw a small demonstrator plane landing at the Skunk Works facility in Palmdale, California, which could potentially But is associated with early tests of the unmanned SR-72 program.

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The reported sightings are consistent with Lockheed’s announcements regarding progress in hypersonic aircraft research. The aerospace firm previously reported work on a combined cycle engine that uses elements of both a turbine and scrum jet to achieve hypersonic speeds, which Lockheed Martin developed with partner Aerojet Rocketdyne from 2013 to 2017. What was the experience? The SR-72, which is designed to be roughly the same size as the SR-71, could achieve its first flight in the late 2020s.

An optionally piloted Flight Research Vehicle (FRV) is also in the works to flight test elements of the SR-72 design. The FRV will be roughly the size of an F-22 and use a single combined cycle engine for propulsion. Development of the FRV is expected to begin next year and first flights could begin as early as 2020. After moving to the FRV, Lockheed could conduct ground and flight tests on an even smaller demonstrator, which could explain the smaller aircraft that was reportedly spotted landing. at Lockheed Martin facilities in California.

According to information provided to AviationWeek, one such technology demonstrator, believed to be an unmanned subscale aircraft, is flying at the US Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale. Seen, where Skunk Works is headquartered. The vehicle, which landed in the early hours on an unspecified date in late July, was spotted with two T-38 escorts. Lockheed Martin declined to comment directly on the scene.

In addition to the sighting, Orlando Carvalho, executive vice president of aeronautics at Lockheed Martin, pointed to the SR-72 program at this week’s SAE International Aerotech Congress and Exhibition in Fort Worth, Texas. “While I can’t go into specifics, let’s just say that the Skunkworks team in Palmdale, California, is doubling down on our commitment to speed,” he said, as reported by Aviation Week. Carvalho continued, “Hypersonics is like stealth. It’s a disruptive technology and will enable various platforms to operate at two to three times the speed of the Blackbird… Security classification guidance us Let’s just say that the speed is higher than Mach 5.

With the development of classified military aircraft, it has historically been the case that system and flight testing begins years before program details are made public. Such was the case with the original SR-71 as well as the F-117 Nighthawk and B-2 Spirit stealth aircraft. The fact that Skunk Works is letting some information about the SR-72 program slip, combined with possible subscale demonstrations at Palmdale, suggests that a hypersonic successor to the Blackbird may only be a matter of time.


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