Lockheed Aircraft

The Lockheed SR-71 "Blackbird" is a long-range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft that was operated by the United States Air Force.

 

Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird

Overview

The SR-71 was designed for flight at over Mach 3 with a flight crew of two in tandem cockpits, with the pilot in the forward cockpit and the reconnaissance systems officer operating the surveillance systems and equipment from the rear cockpit, and directing navigation on the mission flight path. The SR-71 was designed to minimize its radar cross-section, an early attempt at stealth design. Finished aircraft were painted a dark blue, almost black, to increase the emission of internal heat and to act as camouflage against the night sky. The dark color led to the aircraft's nickname "Blackbird".

 

While the SR-71 carried radar countermeasures to evade interception efforts, its greatest protection was its combination of high altitude and very high speed, which made it almost invulnerable. Along with its low radar cross-section, these qualities gave a very short time for an enemy surface-to-air missile (SAM) site to acquire and track the aircraft on radar. By the time the SAM site could track the SR-71, it was often too late to launch a SAM, and the SR-71 would be out of range before the SAM could catch up to it. If the SAM site could track the SR-71 and fire a SAM in time, the SAM would expend nearly all of the delta-v of its boost and sustainer phases just reaching the SR-71's altitude; at this point, out of thrust, it could do little more than follow its ballistic arc.

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Flying at 80,000 ft (24,000 m) meant that crews could not use standard masks, which could not provide enough oxygen above 43,000 ft (13,000 m). Specialized protective pressurized suits were produced for crew members by the David Clark Company for the A-12, YF-12, M-21 and SR-71. Furthermore, an emergency ejection at Mach 3.2 would subject crews to temperatures of about 450 °F (230 °C); thus, during a high-altitude ejection scenario, an onboard oxygen supply would keep the suit pressurized during the descent.[

Lockheed
Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird

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, but none were lost to enemy action. The SR-71 has been given several nicknames, including "Blackbird" and "Habu". Since 1976, it has held the world record for the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft, a record previously held by the related Lockheed YF-12.

  • History

    Role Strategic reconnaissance aircraft

    National origin United States

    Manufacturer Lockheed, Skunk Works division

    Designer Clarence "Kelly" Johnson

    First flight 22 December 1964

    Introduction January 1966

  • Primary Users

    Retired 1998 (USAF), 1999 (NASA)

    Status Retired

    Primary users United States Air Force

    NASA

     

     

     

  • General Info

    Number built 32

    Unit cost

    $34 million

    Developed from Lockheed A-12

     

     

     

Lockheed A-12 / SR-71A Blackbird

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The Lockheed SR-71 "Blackbird" is a long-range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft that was operated by the United States Air Force.

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