By David Crane
david (at) defensereview (dot) com
Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin Skunk Works
September 16, 2015
The media (MSM, aviation, and military defense media, alike), is currently abuzz with news of the new Lockheed Martin Skunk Works TR-X low-observable/stealth tactical reconnaissance aircraft concept (or, concept aircraft), which is the follow-on to the Lockheed Martin U-2 “Dragon Lady” spy plane, or next-gen U2 designed for high-altitude ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) ops. The TR-X will utilize the U2’s General Electric F118 engine and fly at 70,000 feet. The TR-X will sport increased power and cooling for new sensors, electronic warfare suites and more advanced communications tech that will alow the aircraft to communicate with both 4th and 5th-gen fighter aircraft, including the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) variants.
Just going on the concept artwork visuals, the TR-X looks like an unmanned aircraft platform, but DefenseReview (DR) isn’t sure about this, nor are we clear yet on the difference between the TR-X and reported RQ-X concept aircraft. In any case, AINonline reports that the TR-X will have open mission systems (OMS) architecture for improved/enhanced versatility and mission adaptability.
Defense Review is actually much more interested in the high-altitude, low-observable/stealth hypersonic aircraft currently being developed by the US military and large defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman, and we’re particularly interested in those systems that can be armed/weaponized with mission-specific weapons payloads, including guided missiles and bombs, both conventional and nuclear.
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