Skunk Works division of Lockheed Martin shares details about the creation of the Darkstar hypersonic aircraft featured in the film.
The involvement of Skunk Works in the project had already been confirmed by the CEO of Lockheed Martin, James Taiclet, in a post on LinkedIn after the world premiere of the film. Now, the company added on its website a page dedicated to Top Gun and the mysterious Darkstar.
“In our story we find Maverick pushing the envelope of human performance in aviation. Working in partnership with Lockheed Martin and Skunk Works, we were able to create Darkstar, our full-scale prototype for the film”, says Top Gun: Maverick’s director Joseph Kosinski. “We based the design on the fastest aircraft, the SR-71, which Lockheed built in the 1960s. The team wanted to go beyond that.”
As you might already have seen in the film, the Darkstar has sleek aerodynamic shapes, with small wings and canted vertical twin tails. The aircraft is built around a turbine-based combined cycle propulsion system, with two turbojet/low-bypass turbofan afterburning engines and two scramjet.
“We lowered it a little bit. It also made it look a little sleeker and faster,” says Jeremy Hindle, the film’s Production Designer. “Through their design team, we learned how to make the plane look angry, mean, insanely fast.” Kosinski even added “it felt like something that could really fly”.
Even if those characteristics might be similar to the SR-71 Blackbird, as referenced by Kosinski, many have already noticed a close resemblance of the Darkstar with the concept images of the SR-72 hypersonic reconnaissance aircraft.
As you might already have seen in the film, the Darkstar has sleek aerodynamic shapes, with small wings and canted vertical twin tails. The aircraft is built around a turbine-based combined cycle propulsion system, with two turbojet/low-bypass turbofan afterburning engines and two scramjets. There’s also an interesting feature that comes from a real aircraft being developed right now by the Skunk Works, the X-59 QueSST. The cockpit, in fact, has no forward visibility and Maverick relies on a synthetic vision system to see what’s in front of the aircraft.
The Darkstar bears a striking resemblance to artist renderings of Lockheed Martin’s long-awaited follow-up to the SR-71 Blackbird, the hypersonic SR-72, many times referred to as the SR-72 Darkstar. As it turns out, that may not have been by happenstance.