Boeing has finally unveiled a successor to the legendary Blackbird SR-71 spy plane, capable of traveling at five times the speed of sound. By Sean Keach



The new “Son of Blackbird” was revealed at an event in Orlando, Florida, but it’s only a concept design for now.
The new aircraft will be a direct competitor to Lockheed Martin’s upcoming SR-72.
These rival firms are racing to create a hypersonic aircraft that’s capable of stealthy recon assignments — and strike missions, too.
Speaking to Aviation Week Aerospace Daily, Boeing’s hypersonics chief described how Boeing was planning a two-step development process for the new warplane.
The first stage would involve flight tests of an “F16-size, single-engine” precursor vehicle that acts as a “proof of concept.”
The second stage is the creation of a “twin-engine, full-scale operational vehicle” that has roughly similar dimensions to the 107-foot-long SR-71.
Boeing’s end goal is an aircraft that can travel at speeds beyond Mach 5 — that’s five times the speed of sound.
The speed of sound — or Mach 1 — is around 767 miles per hour. So hitting Mach 5 would mean the Son of Blackbird would have to travel at an incredible 3,836 miles per hour.
For comparison, a Boeing 747 passenger jet typically reaches cruising speeds of just 549 miles per hour.
The tricky part is that the SR-71 replacement needs to be able to take off, accelerate, slow down and land all on its own — just like the original 1964 model.
Boeing is looking at using a conventional turbojet to hit Mach 3, then switching to a different configuration to boost beyond Mach 5.
Sadly, there’s no guarantee when Boeing will have a sky-ready model, so we’ll just have to drool over concept renderings for now.