Top Gun: Maverick’s Darkstar – how Lockheed Martin built prototype Mach 10 jet

by | Jun 11, 2022 - 11:51AM | Movies

The Darkstar before flight in Top Gun: Maverick

The Darkstar is the first jet you see in Top Gun: Maverick and it’s the plane everyone talks about at the end credits.

It’s Tom Cruise’s Mach 10 scramjet, and the prototype was made with the legendary Skunk Works – a division of Lockheed Martin.

Skunk Works are the brains behind the fastest aircraft ever made, the SR-71 Blackbird.

READ MORE! Top Gun: Maverick jet looked so real China ‘used a satellite to spy on it’

So when the biggest Hollywood blockbuster of the year needed a cool-looking supersonic jet, Skunk Works was the only place they could trust.

And now Lockheed Martin has given us some behind-the-scenes on how Darkstar was made.

The Skunk Works team said the concept behind Darkstar was born out of real engineering.

“Darkstar may not be real, but its capabilities are. Hypersonic technology, or the ability to travel at 60 miles per minute or faster, is a capability our team continues to advance today,” a statement from Lockheed Martin said.


“With the 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.”

Joseph Kosinski is the director of Top Gun: Maverick and he said the Darkstar in the movie was a legit, full-scale prototype.

“We based the design on the fastest aircraft, the SR-71,” Kosinski said.

“The team wanted to go beyond that. It felt like something that could truly fly.”

Top Gun: Maverick production designer Jeremy Hindle said Skunk Works made not just the shape of the Darkstar, but the gadgets inside the cockpit too.

“The cockpit was mindblowing… you really wanted to believe it was real,” Hindle said.

“[With Skunk Works] we learned how to make the plane look angry, mean, insanely fast.”

And what did Maverick himself, Tom Cruise, have to say?

“We wanted that moment in the Darkstar flight where you just feel, not only the command of flight but the beauty of flight,” Cruise said.

You can see what else the crew had to say about the Darkstar in the video below:

Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird top speed 

The Darkstar was not only inspired by the original SR-71, there are rumours it might look a lot like the top-secret (and still in development) SR-72.

The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird is the fastest jet in the world and its top speed of 3,500km/h (2,100 mph) means it can outrun most missiles.

The jet first flew in 1964 and was still used by the US military right up until 1999.

It was an iconic symbol of Cold War tech and was used to spy on the Soviet Union.

The aircraft’s body was made out of titanium.

Titanium was pretty much the only material available that could withstand the extreme heat generated by flying at more than three times the speed of sound.

The cockpit glass was made of quartz, regular glass would have melted.



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