Lockheed Martin RQ-3 DarkStar Airplane Videos and Airplane Pictures

Lockheed Martin RQ-3 DarkStar Video - Overview - Unmanned Stealth Helicopter

Lockheed Martin RQ-3 DarkStar Video - Overview

Lockheed Martin RQ-3 DarkStar Aircraft Information

Lockheed Martin RQ-3 DarkStar

RQ-3A Darkstar

Role: high-altitude endurance UAV
Manufacturer: Lockheed Martin/Boeing
First flight: March 29, 1996

The RQ-3 DarkStar (known as Tier III- or "Tier three minus" during development) is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Its first flight was on March 29, 1996. The Department of Defense terminated DarkStar in January 1999, after determining the UAV did not have enough payload and range to be militarily useful. DarkStar crashed on its second takeoff, earning it the moniker "DarkSpot."

The RQ-3 DarkStar was designed as a "high-altitude endurance UAV", and incorporated stealth technology to make it difficult to detect, which allowed it to operate within heavily defended airspace, unlike the RQ-4 Global Hawk, which is unable to operate except under conditions of air superiority. The DarkStar was fully autonomous: it could take off, fly to its target, operate its sensors, transmit information, return and land without human intervention. Human operators, however, could change the DarkStar's flight plan and sensor orientation through radio or satellite relay. The RQ-3 carried either an optical sensor or radar, and could send digital information to a satellite while still in flight.

The first prototype made its first flight on March 29, 1996, but its second flight, on April 22, 1996, ended in a crash shortly after takeoff. A modified, more stable design (the RQ-3A) first flew on June 29, 1998, and made a total of five flights before the program was canceled just prior to the sixth and final flight planned for the airworthiness test phase. Two additional RQ-3As were built, but never made any flights before program cancellation.

Although purportedly terminated on January 28, 1999, it was reported in April 2003 that the RQ-3 was still in development as a black project. The size and capabilities were reported to have increased somewhat. It was further alleged that the first such example had been used in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. There has been no independent confirmation.

The "R" is the Department of Defense designation for reconnaissance; "Q" means unmanned aircraft system. The "3" refers to it being the third of a series of purpose-built unmanned reconnaissance aircraft systems.

Airplane Picture - RQ-3A Dark Star on display at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington

Picture - RQ-3A Dark Star on display at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington


The first prototype RQ-3A (A/V #2) is at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio. It is displayed in the Museum's Research & Development Hangar. It is the only RQ-3A to have flown.
The second prototype RQ-3A (A/V #3) is on display in the Great Gallery of the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington.

RQ-3A is on display at the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC next to the Smithsonian


General characteristics

Airplane Picture - Overhead view

Picture - Overhead view

Airplane Picture - Dark Star at the Museum of Flight.

Picture - Dark Star at the Museum of Flight.

Primary function: Reconnaissance
Contractor: Lockheed Martin, Skunk Works, Palmdale, California, and Boeing Company, Seattle, Washington.
Powerplant: One Williams-Rolls FJ44-1A with 1,900 lbf (8.5 kN) thrust
Empty Weight: 4,360 lb (1,980 kg)
Max LoadedWeight: 8,500 lb (3,860 kg)
Fuel capacity:
System cost:


Length: 15 ft (4.6 m)
Height: 3 ft 6 in (1.1 m)
Wingspan: 69 ft (21.3 m)


Cruising speed: 288 mph (464 km/h)
Range: 575 mi (925 km)
Service ceiling: 45,000 ft (13,500 m)

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle

Comparable aircraft

MQ-9 Reaper (originally known as the RQ-9 Predator B)
RQ-170 Sentinel
Dassault Neuron
EADS Barracuda

Related lists

List of active United States military aircraft


Specifications and second and third paragraphs: Display information on exhibit at Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington, USA.

Lockheed Martin RQ-3 DarkStar Pictures

Living Warbirds: The best warbirds DVD series.

Source: WikiPedia

eXTReMe Tracker