New US Hypersonic Spy Plane Could Fly London to New York in Less Than an Hour

By Ross Johnson on at

The new SR-72 spy plane will be the successor to the iconic veteran of the Cold War, the Blackbird SR-71, and will likely be the first machine that Skynet grabs hold of when it gains sentience.

Designed for high-altitude surveillance, the SR-72 may also be fitted with weapons to target positions from heights of 24,000m (80,000ft). The original Blackbird operated at this altitude but has not been in active service since 1998.

But where the Blackbird could only (!) reach speeds around Mach 3, the new aircraft is being designed to function at Mach 6, or 3,600mph. Using jet turbine technology to reach Mach 3, the SR-72 will then switch to operating as a ramjet in order to go even faster.

At these speeds, Lockheed argues, any potential military threat would have no time to react or hide from the aircraft. Potentially working by 2030, the SR-72 would be able to traverse the Atlantic, from London to New York, in less than an hour.

But unlike the Concorde passenger airliner, or even the Blackbird, there will be no room for fragile, fleshy humans on this lightning-fast flight -- the SR-72 will be a robotically controlled plane. So no "just popping to NYC" trips for you. Yet... [Lockheed Martin via BBC]