Sr71 Blackbird Essay

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Development[edit] BackgroundLockheed's previous reconnaissance aircraft was the U-2, which was designed for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). In 1960, while overflying the USSR, Francis Gary Powers' U-2 was shot down by Soviet surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). This highlighted the U-2's vulnerability due to its relatively slow speed; this paved the way for the Lockheed A-12, also designed for the CIA by Clarence Johnson at Lockheed's Skunk Works.[9] The A-12 was the precursor of the SR-71. The A-12's first flight took place at Groom Lake (Area 51), Nevada, on 25 April 1962. It was equipped with the less powerful Pratt & Whitney J75 engines due to protracted development of the intended Pratt & Whitney J58. The J58s were retrofitted as they became available, and became the standard power plant for all subsequent aircraft in the series (A-12, YF-12, M-21) as well as the follow-on SR-71 aircraft. Thirteen A-12s were built. Two A-12 variants were also developed, including three YF-12A interceptor prototypes, and two M-21 drone carrier variants. The cancellation of A-12 program was announced on 28 December 1966,[10] due to budget concerns,[11] and because of the forthcoming SR-71. The A-12 flew missions over Vietnam and North Korea before its retirement in 1968. [edit] SR-71 SR-71 assembly line at Skunk WorksThe SR-71 designator is a continuation of the pre-1962 bomber series, which ended with the XB-70 Valkyrie. During the later period of its testing, the B-70 was proposed for a reconnaissance/strike role, with an RS-70 designation. When it was clear that the A-12 performance potential was much greater, the Air Force ordered a variant of the A-12 in December 1962.[12] Originally named R-12[N 1] by Lockheed, the Air Force version was longer and heavier than the A-12, with a longer fuselage to hold more fuel, two seats in the cockpit, and reshaped chines.

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