Lockheed Martin sent out a tweet congratulating Top Gun for its Oscar nominations and also mentioned the SR-71 Blackbird, which it claimed was the “fastest acknowledged crewed air-breathing jet aircraft.” However, using the word “acknowledged” in this context is puzzling.
Lockheed’s fictitious Darkstar aircraft in the movie has similarities with the SR-72, a hypersonic aircraft that may already exist or is being developed. There is speculation that parts of the Darkstar may already be in development, and the recent tweets by Lockheed only add to the intrigue.
It has been noted that the design of the Darkstar resembles existing illustrations of Lockheed’s projected SR-72 uncrewed hypersonic aircraft, indicating that the SR-72 concept may have influenced the Darkstar’s design. It is plausible that aspects of Lockheed’s SR-72 design or a predecessor demonstrator of its technology may have been lurking in plain sight on our cinema screens.
Lockheed has previously discussed a demonstration aircraft to showcase the technologies that would support the SR-72’s hypersonic design, which could take to the skies in just a few years for less than $1 billion in production costs.
The recent tweets by Lockheed suggest that parts of the Darkstar may already be in development, fueling speculation on the state of Lockheed’s secretive projects. It is also possible that the SR-71’s records were long since broken by a clandestine crewed aircraft.
Overall, the tweets add to Lockheed’s efforts to change people’s understanding of the history of high-speed flying. While the intrigue around Lockheed’s secretive projects continues, Top Gun remains one of the best films of 2022.