HomeNews and EventsMcLaren and Skunk Works collaborate on design techniques

McLaren and Skunk Works collaborate on design techniques

What's the automotive equivalent to the SR-71 Blackbird?

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Skunk Works makes supersonic jets, and teaming with McLaren seems like the perfect collaboration for those that want to go fast. Today, supercar manufacturer McLaren announced a technical collaboration to research futuristic design methods with aerospace and defense engineering firm Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. Skunk Works is the advanced engineering branch of Lockheed Martin and has designed numerous military aircraft, including the SR-71 Blackbird and the F-117 Nighthawk “Stealth Fighter.”

Darkstar hypersonic aircraft from "Top Gun: Maverick" and the McLaren Artura
Darkstar hypersonic aircraft from “Top Gun: Maverick” and the McLaren Artura

“The one and only Lockheed Martin Skunk Works has a 75-year track record developing aircraft systems that push the boundaries of what’s possible,” per Skunk Works. “Trusted to solve critical national needs for our warfighters’, the Skunk Works never shies away from seemingly unsolvable challenges and has a reputation for solving hard problems quickly, quietly and affordably.”

The project will focus on using new Skunk Works’ aviation development systems for advanced automotive design. McLaren states, “(Skunk Works’) pioneering software sets the parameters for high-speed systems more accurately and swiftly than traditional design methods.”

Darkstar hypersonic aircraft from "Top Gun: Maverick" and the McLaren Artura
Darkstar hypersonic aircraft from “Top Gun: Maverick” and the McLaren Artura

McLaren scientists and engineers will collaborate with their counterparts at Skunk Works to test how the software could be used commercially in automotive design.

Automotive and aeronautical collaborations are nothing new. In November, Airbus and Renault Group signed a research and development agreement to enhance each companies’ electrification abilities. The partnership will focus on further developing energy storage technology for the development of long-range electric vehicles.

“Working alongside an iconic company such as Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, renowned for their visionary focus on the future, is a natural fit,” says Darren Goddard, Chief Technical Officer, McLaren Automotive. “We hope this is the start of a longer and deeper collaboration that will benefit our customers in the long-term.”

Skunk Works showcased one of its latest projects during the announcement of the McLaren collaboration: the conceptual Darkstar hypersonic aircraft from “Top Gun: Maverick.” The fighter jet concept was parked behind the McLaren Artura and, even though the hybrid supercar was developed before teaming with Skunk Works, it makes me wonder about the possibilities of what the future may hold for this partnership. Teaming advanced engineering teams could lead to some incredible automotive projects that are unimaginable.

David P. Castro
David P. Castro
The Santa Rosa, California native is an experienced automotive and motorsports writer with a passion for American muscle cars. He is a credentialed automotive, NASCAR, and IndyCar reporter that graduated from the University of Nevada-Reno. A devoted F1 and NASCAR fan, he currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife, son, Siberian Husky, Mini Cooper, and 1977 Chevrolet C10.

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