To celebrate Top Gun: Maverick’s six Oscar nominations, Lockheed Martin once again hinted at the existence of a secret high-speed jet faster than the legendary SR-71 Blackbird.
Top Gun: Maverick was the second highest-grossing film of 2022, scoring a magnificent total of six Academy Award nominations this year.
To mark the occasion of Maverick’s Oscar nomination success, Lockheed Martin, whose Skunk Works division worked with the filmmakers on the fictional “Darkstar” hypersonic aircraft, put out a series of tweets in the lead-up to the ceremony.
One of these tweets was particularly remarkable, as it once again alluded to the existence of a jet faster than the SR-71 Blackbird.
“The SR-71 Blackbird is still the fastest acknowledged crewed air-breathing jet aircraft,” the company said in one tweet.
Lockheed Martin’s SR-71 Blackbird, capable of flying at speeds well over Mach 3, is known as the fastest fighter aircraft ever built. However, in the movie, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell takes the Darkstar hypersonic test jet over Mach 10.
Highway to The Danger Zone #RealTopGun
— Lockheed Martin (@LockheedMartin) March 12, 2023
Ever since the retirement of the SR-71 Blackbird in 1998, the US military has longed for its worthy successor. Therefore, the word “acknowledged” in the tweet by Lockheed while referring to SR-71 suggests the existence of another unknown or ‘unacknowledged’ aircraft faster than the Blackbird.
Apart from that, Lockheed also put out an image featuring the fictional Darkstar, illuminated with a deep red backlight, describing it as the “Maverick-worthy images of real aircraft.”
As EurAsian Times had discussed earlier, there is indeed a Blackbird’s successor, the SR-72, also known as the ‘Son of the Blackbird,’ which is being developed at Lockheed’s Skunk Works facility.
The Darkstar mock-up plane featured in the Top Gun: Maverick resembles this SR-72 hypersonic demonstrator aircraft.
The SR-72 is expected to make its first flight in 2025, and its top speed is expected to be Mach 6, enough to blow off rooftops, just like how Darkstar does in the movie.
The Darkstar looked so real that even China needed to turn one of its satellites to photograph the fictional model, according to legendary filmmaker and Top Gun producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who claimed to have been informed of this by the US Navy.
“The Navy told us that a Chinese satellite turned and headed on a different route to photograph that plane. They thought it was real. That’s how real it looks,” Bruckheimer told Sandboxx News.
Furthermore, Lockheed Martin’s Director of International Communications, John Neilson, suggested in April 2022 that Darkstar could offer a “sneaky peek at what might be the Lockheed Martin SR-72.”
“Rumours that ‘Top Gun: Maverick,’ in cinemas May 27, features a sneaky peek at what might be the Lockheed Martin SR-72, successor to super-impressive SR-71 Blackbird. This still photo from promotional materials seems to support that thinking. I can’t wait,” said Neilson in a tweet.
SR-72 Hypersonic Reconnaissance Aircraft
Lockheed proposed the development of SR-72 in 2013 with plans for a maiden test flight by 2025.
The SR-72 will reportedly be powered by a propulsion system centered on a turbine-based combined cycle, which merges a modified production fighter turbine engine with a dual-mode ramjet – also called a scramjet. This is supposed to allow the aircraft to accelerate from a standing start to Mach 6.
This means the SR-72 would be able to reach any destination in an incredibly short amount of time. Furthermore, the platform will be capable of firing hypersonic missiles.
The aircraft can be used for high-speed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), and strike operations. Its high speed combined with hypersonic missiles means no enemy missile defense systems can stop the SR-72 in combat. The reconnaissance fighter is being developed to make it so fast that an adversary will have no time to react or hide from it.
In June 2017, Lockheed Martin announced the SR-72 would be in development by the early 2020s, with a prototype of the SR-72 scheduled to fly before 2025.
The company has not discussed the cost of the airplane, although the defense contractor has mentioned a precursor drone that could have a price tag of $1 billion.
Lockheed believes the SR-72 will change the “definition of air power by giving the US significant tactical and strategic advantages” and forever change the ability of the US to deter and respond to conflict.