Skunk Works division of Lockheed Martin created a fictional Darkstar hypersonic aircraft that is featured in the Top Gun: Maverick film. The aircraft featured in the opening scenes of the blockbuster movie is now on static display at Edwards Air Force Base during the upcoming Aerospace Valley Open House, Air Show, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Expo.
As explained by Space.com, in “Top Gun: Maverick,” the Darkstar appears in the opening sequence as Tom Cruise’s eponymous character takes it on an unauthorized test flight that reaches speeds of well over Mach 10, causing the craft to disintegrate. The stunt gets Maverick in enough hot water that he is reassigned to a teaching position, setting the film’s plot in motion.
The first images of the movie prop have been released by the official 2022 Aerospace Valley Air Show social media account:
The fictional crewed hypersonic plane was towed from a hangar at Edwards AFB to a static display location parked next to a historic (and very real) Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.
Based on what we saw at Edwards AFB, it’s likely the aircraft movie prop will be displayed next to the SR-71 throughout the show this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, October 15 and 16.
According to the Lockheed Martin website in fact, ‘When the Top Gun: Maverick team was looking to push the envelope and stand true to Maverick’s Need for Speed, Skunk Works was their first call. With Skunk Works’ expertise in developing the fastest known aircraft combined with a passion and energy for defining the future of aerospace, Darkstar’s capabilities could be more than mere fiction. They could be reality…’
The SR-72 in fact is envisioned as a manned or an unmanned, reusable hypersonic ISR and strike aircraft capable of Mach 6 flight, or nearly double the speed of its predecessor, the SR-71 Blackbird.
As we have previously reported, NASA is funding the validation of a previous Lockheed study that found that speeds up to Mach 7 could be achieved with a dual-mode engine that combines turbine and ramjet technologies. Like the engines used by the Darkstar in Top Gun: Maverick.