Last month, we speculated that the SR-71, the top-secret experimental spy plane successor to Lockheed Martin's famous SR-72 Blackbird, may have appeared in “Top Gun: Maverick” trailers. Since the movie is released We can confirm that a modified version of the mysterious hypothetical SR-72 appeared in manned form on the launch set. A few fictional Hollywood additions and it makes a big impression!
Clips from pre-release teasers showed Maverick's high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft used in the Cold War wearing an astronaut pressurized suit alongside a futuristic aircraft that appears to be Lockheed Martin's stealth successor.
Played by Tom Cruise, Maverick is an Air Force test pilot who wants to take a high-speed flight aboard the newest and greatest hypersonic aircraft, the Darkstar. However, the program's budget was cut and the initiative was discontinued due to doubts about the powers' potential. Maverick disobeys orders to retreat.
Darkstar screams when Rear Admiral Chester Cain (Ed Harris) arrives on the apron, who is coming to end the program. Suffice it to say without giving any indication of what will happen next, but like Sam Shepard's Chuck Yeager in "The Right Stuff," Maverick has pushed the limits and hit some stratospheric speed records with Mach 10.
In reality, the SR-72 has not yet flown for the first time, and it is expected to happen next year. But who knows these top-secret aviation ventures, and their test flights are rarely made public until years later.
Thanks to the magic of Tinseltown, we see a sneaky airplane in the sky, blazing with scramjet engines at unimaginable speeds.
To assist director Joseph Kosinski and Paramount Pictures, Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works film collaborated with the "Top Gun: Maverick" production team to design what could be an adaptation of the hypersonic SR-72 aircraft.
On the big screen as both a full-scale physical mockup and an aerial CGI version. The pilot's bar even had the Lockheed Martin emblem on it.
According to The Drive, James Taiclet, president and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation, stated that the fictitious spy plane was created with the help of his company's legendary Skunk Works advanced projects division.
In a LinkedIn post, Taiclet announced that engineers from renowned Skunk Works have partnered with the manufacturers of “Top Gun's” to bring the latest, future-proof technology to the big screen.
Since the $170 million painting went into pre-production in 2017, the artists' conceptual artwork looks strikingly similar to "Maverick's" Darkstar, and rumors have swirled around it.
The SR-72 design and Darkstar differ in several ways; one is that the film model has two inward curved caudal fins instead of one. Another example is the blind cockpit of the fictitious Darkstar with no vision.
Skunk Works' actual SR-72 would be pilotless, but a demonstration aircraft could be built with room for a single pilot. Also, the actual jet under development is designed to reach the top speed of Mach 10, not Mach 6.
So, is the Darkstar hypersonic plane in “Top Gun: Maverick” a disguised preview of the real Lockheed Martin SR-72* or is it an expensive propeller whose effects created it? One of the most iconic concept jets ever made in Hollywood? All these questions will be answered.
While Lockheed's Skunk Works division helped create the Mach 10 Darkstar plane in “Top Gun: Maverick,” a company spokesperson reminded us that it's just a movie.
Darkstar is a hyper-realistic airplane concept designed specifically for the movie, and otherwise fictitious, according to Lockheed's Ananda Costa.