Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works division will soon start testing a secret new aircraft “Speed Racer”, using an all-new digital engineering process known as StarDrive.
Skunk Works Division:
The Skunk Works, headquartered in Maryland, is Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Program (ADP), formerly known as Lockheed Advanced Development Projects.
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Skunk Works is responsible for developing solutions in core capability areas, with a team of dedicated engineers and scientists.
Skunk Works until now developed a number of aircraft designs, beginning with P-38 Lightning in 1939 onwards to the P-80 Shooting Star, U-2, SR-71 Blackbird, F-117 Nighthawk, F-22 Raptor, and F-35 Lightning ll.
‘Speed Racer’ a secret new aircraft:
The Speed Racer is an air-launched unmanned aircraft system that is meant to validate a new manufacturing process as much as a possible new weapon system. According to Aviation Week Network.
Lockheed Martin Originally announced the aircraft in September 2020, that it is developing and will fly a new Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) to validate the internal digital engineering process the StarDrive.
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Using the StarDrive process, Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works Division will be able to produce sophisticated flight vehicles faster and cheaper across the full range of the company’s product portfolio.
The announcement comes against the backdrop of the Air, Space, and Cyber conference last year, where US Air Force leaders unveiled the “e-series” designation for digital engineering models of weapon systems, which was aimed at dramaticatically shortening the development cycle and cost of new aircraft and missiles.
The additional details about the project have not been revealed by Skunk Works.
“I will tease that Speed Racer is an acronym. I can’t share right now, but it does not necessarily imply fast in Mach,” according to Jor Pokora, Lockheed Martin’s Speed Racer project manager.
What is StarDrive?
As the new aircraft development has grown more complex with requirements for extreme levels of stealth, advanced power and thermal management systems, modern electronics and software-enabled applications.
Keeping in mind all the requirements for the development of modern fighter jets, the company introduced the StarDrive process. It speeds-up the development process by fulfilling all the development requirements in a very short time.
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For example, the Pentagon has designed and developed the F-35 fighter jet over the course of two decades. By comparison, the Air Force revealed in 2020 that it used a digital engineering process to secretly design, build, and test a new prototype fighter jet in the span of just one year.
“The ultimate capability of the system is really not what the project is focusing on. What we are really working to do is show how we use the toolset and how we implement, starting from a one-page concept, and (bringing) that all the way through flight.” Pokora said.
He added, the advantage of using digital engineering is that there is one set of data. While others in various parts of the engineering process still look at it through their own toolsets, each toolset is connected to the same core information. According to Janes.
With the induction of the new development process ‘StarDrive’ by the Skunk Works division, the company will be able to develop the new fighter jets in a relatively very short interval.
This will help the US military to produce cheaper fighter jets in the future.
The new Speed Racer flight vehicle will soon enter the testing phase. The successful testing of the Speed Racer will further validate the StarDrive process.