The SR-72, the successor to the iconic SR-71 spy plane, may already be here. We probably wouldn’t have known this, but a curious statement by a Lockheed executive hinted that the SR-72 might already exist.
But aside from that possible slip, aerospace company Lockheed Martin and the U.S. military are trying to stay mum about it.
Say hello to the SR-72
According to Bloomberg, Lockheed VP Jack O’Banion displayed an artist’s rendering of the SR-72 when he addressed the audience at the annual SciTech conference in Florida in January.
It gets better: as O’Banion discussed recent developments in computing and design, he said, “Without the digital transformation, the aircraft you see there could not have been made,” (emphasis mine).
This implies that the plane already exists. And there’s more:
“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 shared. “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.”
As expected, Lockheed and the U.S. military declined to comment.
Crazy Blackbird stats
For the uninitiated, the SR-71 Blackbird was an absurdly fast spy plane that absorbs (instead of reflecting) radar signals. This made the Blackbird effective at hiding despite its 107-feet frame. It’s not entirely invisible on radar: the aircraft shows up as an object between the size of a bird and a human.