Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird Military Aircraft
The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird was designed by Clarence "Kelly" Johnson in the early 1960's as a strategic reconnaissance aircraft to replace the Lockheed U2. When Francis Gary Powers was shot down over Soviet territory at a height previously thought to be unreachable by any Soviet missile on the 1st of May 1960, it was realised that extreme height alone was no longer a safeguard for a spy-plane and the Lockheed "Skunk Works", who had produced the U2 spy-plane, was tasked with designing a replacement aircraft as a Black project", the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird was their answer to their top-secret task.
The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird first flew in late 1964 and entered service in 1966, high altitude and a stealthy low radar profile gave it considerable invisibility and as a final safeguard standard operational procedure should an incoming surface-to-air-missile (SAM) be detected was to fully open the throttles and accelerate to over Mach 3.2 leaving the missile behind! A total of 32 SR-71 Blackbirds were produced and served with the USAF until finally retired in 1998. The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird was very expensive to maintain and operate, this was deemed no longer justified when the cold-war ended and with the vastly improved performance of spy satellites.
The retirement of the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, or the "Habu" as it's crews called it, left one slight problem, although numerous spy satellites were always operational they often not where they were needed, and it could take up to 24 hours to re-task and position a satellite! The stop-gap solution was to utilise modernised Lockheed U2 spy-planes!
|Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird Specifications: |
- Crew: 2
- Payload: 3,500 lb (1,600 kg) sensor payload
- Length: 107 ft 5 in (32.74 m) Wingspan: 55 ft 7 in (16.94 m) Height: 18 ft 6 in (5.64 m)
- Empty weight: 67,500 lb (30,600 kg)
- Max takeoff weight: 172,000 lb (78,000 kg)
- Engines: Twin 32,500 lbf (145 kN) Pratt & Whitney J58-1 continuous-bleed afterburning turbojets
- Maximum speed: Mach 3.2+ (2,200+ mph, 3,530+ km/h, 1,900+ knots)
- Range: 2,900 nmi (5,400 km)
- Ferry range: 3,200 nmi (5,925 km)
- Service ceiling: 85,000 ft (25,900 m)
- Rate of climb: 11,810 ft/min (60 m/s)
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Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird Military Aircraft Picture & Information