FASTER? PLEASE. Amid SR-72 Rumors, Skunk Works Ramps Up Hypersonics.
“Although I can’t go into specifics, let us just say the Skunk Works team in Palmdale, California, is doubling down on our commitment to speed,” says Orlando Carvalho, executive vice president of aeronautics at Lockheed Martin, speaking at the SAE International Aerotech Congress and Exhibition here.
“Simply put, I believe the United States is on the verge of a hypersonics revolution,” he says.
Referencing ongoing development of the Darpa/U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory Tactical Boost Glide weapon and Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept research program, the latter in competition with Raytheon, Carvalho says, “Over the last decade progress has been moving quickly, and hypersonic technology is clearly becoming apparent to everyone as a game changer. We continue to advance and test technology which will benefit hypersonic flight and are working on multiple programs, including two Darpa efforts. Speed matters, especially when it comes to national security.”
While making no specific mention of the SR-72, which the company is proposing as a hypersonic replacement for the long-retired high-supersonic SR-71 Blackbird, Carvalho’s positive remarks echo recent comments by Rob Weiss, executive vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs organization. Speaking to Aviation Week in June, Weiss hinted that progress towards an optionally piloted SR-72 precursor flight research vehicle (FRV) was proceeding on schedule.
What’s better than stealth? Flying at five to ten times the speed of sound.