TECH
04/11/2013 10:48 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 10:52 GMT

'SR-72' Unmanned Spy Plane Could Reach 3,600 MPH

Lockheed Martin

An American company is developing an unmanned aircraft capable of travelling at six times the speed of sound.

The SR-72 supersonic plane would use a turbine-ramjet engine to reach 3,600 MPH, said Lockheed Martin.

The company said the plane will be designed for high-altitude surveillance, but could also be armed with guns or missiles.

Just don't look to the skies yet - the plane isn't scheduled to be operational until 2030 at the earliest.

The jet is designed as the successor to the Blackbird SR-71 spy plane, which first flew almost 50 years ago in 1964 but was able to reach Mach 3 (1,800MPH).

lockheed martin

In a post on its blog, Lockheed Martin said the SR-72 was nicknamed "son of Blackbird" for its (anticipated) ability to break air speed records.

"Hypersonic aircraft, coupled with hypersonic missiles, could penetrate denied airspace and strike at nearly any location across a continent in less than an hour," said Brad Leland, Lockheed Martin program manager, Hypersonics.

"Speed is the next aviation advancement to counter emerging threats in the next several decades. The technology would be a game-changer in theater, similar to how stealth is changing the battlespace today."