Aviation Week reports on a new hypersonic jet being developed by the Boeing company. This new plane, already called the “Son of Blackbird” in reference to the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird aircraft, is planned to break Mach 5 once created.
The plans and a model of the jet was revealed at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics SciTech forum in Orlando, Florida. According to the presentation, the jet will be able to reach its unparalleled speeds thanks to a combined-cycle engine as well as a turbine and a dual ramjet/scramjet design. Though the model has not yet been approved for full production by the Boeing company, experts agree that it could feasibly work as intended were it to be made.
In creating this new plane, the company studied the results of its previous X-43 and X-51 Waverider jets, two unmanned test planes created to experiment with hypersonic flight. Their goal with these planes’ successor is to create a true successor to the SR-71, meaning a plane capable of reaching these immense speeds while also being able to take off and land under its own power. This is much more difficult than it sounds, as only the X-51 has managed to reach the required speeds (topping out at Mach 5.1 for over three minutes) while being launched by a B-52 Stratofortress and crashing into the ocean after quickly running out of fuel.
Funnily enough, Lockheed Martin is trying to create their own successor to their famous aircraft, studying many of the same cutting edge technologies as Boeing. Additionally, a prototype tester for the “SR-72” may have been spotted recently, though the company has not yet confirmed it. They have said, however, that they hope to begin running official tests with a scaled demonstrator plane by the 2020’s.
Whether or not Boeing can catch up to Lockheed Martin in their pursuit to create another hypersonic manned jet remains to be seen, though the future of strike and reconnaissance aircraft technology seems to be advancing at breakneck speed either way.