LOCKHEED SR-71 BLACKBIRD Role: Strategic reconnaissance aircraft Manufacturer: Lockheed, Skunk Works division Status: Retired The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird is a long-range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft that was operated by the United States Air Force. It was developed as a black projectfrom the Lockheed A-12 reconnaissance aircraft in the 1960s by Lockheed and its Skunk Works division. Renowned American aerospace engineer Clarence "Kelly" Johnson was responsible for many of the design's innovative concepts. During aerial reconnaissance missions, the SR-71 operated at high speeds and altitudes to allow it to outrace threats. If asurface-to-air missile launch was detected, the standard evasive action was simply to accelerate and outfly the missile. The SR-71 was designed to have basic stealth characteristics and served as a precursor to future stealth aircraft. The SR-71 served with the U.S. Air Force from 1964 to 1998. A total of 32 aircraft were built; 12 were lost in accidents with none lost to enemy action. The SR-71 has been given several nicknames, including Blackbird and Habu. It has held the world record for the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft since 1976; this record was previously held by the relatedLockheed YF-12.
David Axe, Daily Beast: The CIA’s Legendary Blackbird Was Actually the First Stealth Warplane
A newly released, formerly top-secret official CIA history details the Blackbird’s hidden past as the world’s first operational stealth warplane.
In 1956, the U.S. Air Force had a big problem. The high-flying, camera-equipped U-2 spy plane had flown for the first time just a year earlier. But as America’s main strategic reconnaissance aircraft, the subsonic U-2 was already obsolete.
The Air Force’s solution was to develop a new spy plane. The resulting Blackbird more than matched the U-2’s impressive high-altitude performance and added the ability to fly at three times the speed of sound.
In 35 years of military and CIA service, the Blackbird became legendary for its blistering top speed and sinister appearance. But a just-released, formerly top-secret official CIA history underscores the Blackbird’s lesser-known but equally important accomplishment.
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WNU Editor: For more info (and pictures) on the SR-71, go here .... A Brief Look At The History Of The SR-71 Blackbird (Photo Gallery Included)