US defense contractor Lockheed Martin has announced it has begun work on developing an unmanned, hypersonic spy plane capable of striking targets at 3,600 mph.

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The SR-72 will be used for high-altitude surveillance and Lockheed Martin has already begun working on it at its Skunk Works R&D center in California.

According to Lockleed, the SR-72 “would be so fast, an adversary would have no time to react or hide.” 

Brad Leland, a Lockleed engineer, spoke to Reuters about the project: “Hypersonic is the new stealth. Your adversaries cannot hide or move their critical assets. They will be found. That becomes a game-changer.”

The new aircraft will be twice as fast as the renowned SR-71 Blackbird, and at Mach 6 (six-times the speed of sound), its top speed will be thrice that of current fighter jets. “Speed is the next aviation advancement to counter emerging threats in the next several decades,” Leland explained.

Lockleed Martin has estimated the aircraft should be “fully operational” by 2030.

Sources: Reuters