Lockheed Martin/Boeing RQ-3A DarkStar

Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) developed the stealthy, low-observable DarkStar to provide sustained reconnaissance information from anywhere within enemy territory, day or night, in all types of weather. Developed concurrently with the nonstealthy RQ-4A Global Hawk, DarkStar could provide near real-time target data and imagery by way of satellite links to its mobile ground station.

The first DarkStar prototype flew successfully in March 1996 but crashed during its second flight a month later. More than two years passed before a second prototype took to the air and performed an autonomous takeoff, flight plan, and landing. It made five flights before the program was canceled in January 1999. The DarkStar displayed here was built before the program ended but never performed a flight test. When the Museum acquired it, the inlet and the exhaust had been sealed due to the classified nature of the design.