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Defence & Arms Last Updated: Feb 23, 2021 - 10:35:00 AM


Skunk Works Is About to Test a Secret New Aircraft Called 'Speed Racer'
By Kyle Misokami, Popular Mechanics 18/2/21
Feb 23, 2021 - 10:34:07 AM

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Here's what we (don't) know about the mysterious vehicle.

 

tier 3 darkstar

Lockheed Martin’s famous “Skunk Works” division will soon begin testing a secret new aircraft, according to Aviation Week. Lockheed designed the uncrewed vehicle, nicknamed “Speed Racer,” using an all-new digital engineering process known as StarDrive. The aircraft’s mission—if it even has one, other than validating the StarDrive process—is still a total mystery.Lockheed originally announced the aircraft in September 2020. While Skunk Works officials didn’t reveal any details about Speed Racer’s configuration, they did tout StarDrive, a process that allows for the rapid development of modern aircraft, which has grown increasingly complicated over time. StarDrive should allow for faster and cheaper development of military aircraft. s content is imported from {embed-name}. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

Skunk Works has built several drones, including the DarkStar spy drone pictured above. While Lockheed ultimately canceled DarkStar, the company went on to build other drones, including the RQ-170.

Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works division produced a number of important aircraft, including the SR-71 Blackbird, U-2 Dragon Lady, and F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter.
Al SeibGetty Images

Digital engineering, which comes from the civilian aerospace sector, has recently ported over to the military sector. The process involves using computer software to construct “digital twins” of aircraft from the design to flight stages, then flying a real, physical aircraft. Engineers can use the software twin to predict how an aircraft will fly, make adjustments, and bring the aircraft design to an advanced level before the “real” twin even flies.

This process allows for quicker development times and shaves considerable costs. The Pentagon designed and developed the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, for example, over the course of two decades—a painfully long process that saw the strategic environment change dramatically. By comparison, the Air Force revealed in 2020 that it used digital engineering to secretly design, build, and test a new prototype fighter jet in the span of just one year.

Lockheed’s Speed Racer will begin ground testing “imminently,” according to Skunk Works officials via Aviation Week. This means Lockheed built a real aircraft to complement the digital twin. Ground testing typically involves watching and testing for reliability, checking for unusual vibrations, and carrying notional payloads while the aircraft is static or moving under its own power. The next step is actual flight testing.

At this juncture, we don’t know anything about Speed Racer. The name itself is a mysterious acronym, “but it does not necessarily imply fast in Mach [number],” Joe Pokora, Lockheed’s Speed Racer project manager, told Aviation Week. So Speed Racer—an obvious nod to the Japanese anime series—may not be a high-speed aircraft system at all. We’ll find out soon.


Source:Ocnus.net 2021

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