US Air Force's Alleged Top Secret SR-72 To Take Flight And Break The Sound Barrier In 2025

hypersonic and supersonic flight is coming with the sr 72 and x 59
If you are into flight, 2024 (and the next few years for that matter) could be a rather interesting time for aviation advancements. We are entering an era of pushing the boundaries, reviving supersonic travel as we begin to explore the possibilities of hypersonic flight and weaponry. While not all of this tech is quite here yet, we may begin to hear more about it before much of it comes to fruition before 2030.

So long as you were not under a rock, you likely heard about Top Gun: Maverick and the absurdly cool “Darkstar” hypersonic aircraft, which was a real model built by Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works team. While that plane may not be real, it may not be all that far off from reality as Lockheed Martin is reportedly working on a successor to the famed SR-71 Blackbird, a supersonic surveillance plane that has now been retired, with the SR-72 dubbed “The Son of Blackbird.”

skunk works hypersonic and supersonic flight is coming with the sr 72 and x 59

The Son of Blackbird has been rumored for some time, with reports dating back to 2013 touting its existence, even if theoretical. It is thought that this plane can hit over 4,000mph, roughly Mach 5.21, classing this vehicle as a hypersonic plane. With these ridiculous speeds, it is thought that this will likely be an uncrewed intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft that will likely enter service by 2030. However, Lockheed will likely aim to do trials and tests around the mid-2020s, which we are now getting into.

x59 hypersonic and supersonic flight is coming with the sr 72 and x 59

Beyond the hypersonic aircraft built for the military-industrial complex, NASA has been working on a supersonic project of its own. The X-59 is another aircraft being worked on by both NASA and Lockheed’s Skunk Works team, which is more visible and expected to be seen sooner. According to a NASA posting on the X-59 Quesst, the first scheduled flight will happen sometime this year. The plan is to fly the plane over several communities and gather data on “how people perceive the sound it produces,” given that supersonic planes normally have sonic booms associated with them. This is a concern for planes like Boom's Overture which will have to get out over the ocean before really lighting the candles. 

This latter aircraft will certainly be the one to look out for in the coming months as NASA gears up to test the plane. You may even spot it flying over a community near you, which would be quite a neat opportunity. As for the SR-72, you likely won’t see this plane until it gets declassified when the next generation of aircraft is coming around, and that’s the point. It would not be much of a stealth and ISR vehicle if everyone knew about it and saw it all the time.

Update (1/3/2024):

It would seem that we were a bit early to punch with covering the X-59, as Lockheed Martin and NASA have now announced that the airplane will have a rollout ceremony on January 12th at 4 p.m. EST. You can watch this rollout through the various in person and virtual watch parties which NASA is tracking on the Quesst rollout website. If you aren't interested in a watch party, you can catch the livestream on YouTube, NASA TV, and the NASA website as well when the time comes. However, if you are looking to host a watch party yourself, you can notify NASA to be added to the map of parties and download the X-59 Watch Party Planning Guide here.