21 Facts About SR-71


SR-71 was developed as a black project from the Lockheed A-12 reconnaissance aircraft during the 1960s by Lockheed's Skunk Works division.

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The shape of the SR-71 was based on that of the A-12, which was one of the first aircraft to be designed with a reduced radar cross-section.

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Mission equipment for the reconnaissance role included signals intelligence sensors, side looking airborne radar, and a camera; the SR-71 was both longer and heavier than the A-12, allowing it to hold more fuel as well as a two-seat cockpit.

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Since its retirement, the SR-71's role has been taken up by a combination of reconnaissance satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles ; a proposed UAV successor, the SR-72, is under development by Lockheed Martin, and scheduled to fly in 2025.

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SR-71 designation is a continuation of the pre-1962 bomber series; the last aircraft built using the series was the XB-70 Valkyrie.

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The SR-71 was designed to minimize its radar cross-section, an early attempt at stealth design.

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Second operational aircraft designed around a stealth aircraft shape and materials, after the Lockheed A-12, the SR-71 had several features designed to reduce its radar signature.

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SR-71 featured chines, a pair of sharp edges leading aft from either side of the nose along the fuselage.

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However, in practice the SR-71 was sometimes more efficient at even faster speeds—depending on the outside air temperature—as measured by pounds of fuel burned per nautical mile traveled.

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SR-71 required in-flight refueling to replenish fuel during long-duration missions.

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The SR-71 carried a Fairchild tracking camera and an infrared camera, both of which ran during the entire mission.

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The first SR-71 to enter service was delivered to the 4200th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base, California, in January 1966.

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An SR-71 was used domestically in 1971 to assist the FBI in their manhunt for the skyjacker D B Cooper.

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On 29 June 1987, an SR-71 was on a mission around the Baltic Sea to spy on Soviet postings when one of the engines exploded.

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However, another view held by various officers and legislators is that the SR-71 program was terminated owing to Pentagon politics, and not because the aircraft had become obsolete, irrelevant, too hard to maintain, or unsustainably expensive.

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Such generals had an interest in believing, and persuading the services and the Congress, that the SR-71 had become either entirely or almost entirely redundant to satellites, U-2s, incipient UAV programs, and an alleged top-secret successor already under development.

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The counterargument was that the longer the SR-71 was not upgraded as aggressively as it ought to have been, the more people could say that it was obsolescent, which was in their interest as champions of other programs .

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Attempts to add a datalink to the SR-71 were stymied early on by the same factions in the Pentagon and Congress who were already set on the program's demise, even in the early 1980s.

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Senator Robert Byrd and other senators complained that the "better than" successor to the SR-71 had yet to be developed at the cost of the "good enough" serviceable aircraft.

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SR-71 was the world's fastest and highest-flying air-breathing operational manned aircraft throughout its career.

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Mr President, the termination of the SR-71 was a grave mistake and could place our nation at a serious disadvantage in the event of a future crisis.

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