• Military Pay Scale
  • Military Ranks
  • Aircraft & Helicopters
  • Small Arms
  • Land Systems
  • Naval Warfare
  • flag of United States

    Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird High-Altitude Reconnaissance Aircraft (1966)

    Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird High-Altitude Reconnaissance Aircraft (1966)

    The SR-71 maintained an excellent operational service record during its Cold War tenure, though a dozen were lost to accidents.

    Staff Writer (Updated: 8/8/2016):

    The sleek SR-71 Blackbird spyplane reached an all new plateau in supersonic high-level flight for the Lockheed Corporation. Developed from the YF-12A interceptor program which spawned the A-12 program which in turn generated the basis for the SR-71 system, the Blackbird became the ultimate tool for the American Central Intelligence Agency throughout the Cold War.

    The SR-71 "Blackbird" was so named in that fashion due to the specialized heat absorbing and radar dissipating color scheme applied to the series. The A model was crewed by two personnel that were required to wear astronaut-type flight suits due to the rigors of high altitude flight. Looking every bit the part of stealth plane, the SR-71 was instrumental in reconnaissance of enemy Cold War facilities of the Western Bloc.

    The Blackbird was of a streamlined delta-type design featuring a smooth elongated fuselage housing instrumentation and fuel. The twin continuous-bleed turbojet engines were held out mid-wing and were the bread and butter of the series, helping the system achieve flight speeds in excess of Mach 3 at well over 70,000 feet. At the time of its inception, the SR-71 was the world's fastest conventionally-powered aircraft.

    The initial SR-71 series was developed from experimental YF-121-A interceptor aircraft. From that development, the A-12 series produced 15 of its type which became a favorite of the CIA for its Mach 3.6 capability and useful in the launching of the D-21 reconnaissance drone. The ultimate version became the well-known SR-71 and achieved full operational status in 1966 with a total of 30 aircraft being produced.

    Training for SR-71 pilots was handled via a single SR-71B series model and a single SR-71C series model, the latter based highly on a converted A-series model. The SR-71 faced full retirement status in 1989. Two SR-71's were activated out of retirement in in the middle of the 1990's with the whole series once again seeing full retirement in April of 1998.


    Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird
    Type: High-Altitude Reconnaissance Aircraft
    National Origin: United States [ VIEW ]
    Manufacturer(s): Lockheed Skunkworks, Lockheed Corporation - USA [ VIEW ]
    Introduction: 1966
    Production Total: 32 [ VIEW ]


    United States


    Crew: 2
    Length: 107.41 feet (32.74 meters)
    Width: 55.58 feet (16.94 meters)
    Height: 18.50 feet (5.64 meters)
    Weight (Empty): 67,501 lb (30,618 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 172,005 lb (78,020 kg)


    Maximum Speed: 2,275 mph (3,661 kmh; 1,977 knots)
    Maximum Range: 3,355 miles (5,400 km)
    Service Ceiling: 85,000 feet (25,908 meters; 16.1 miles)
    Rate-of-Climb: 11,810 feet-per-minute (3,600 m/min)


    Powerplant: 2 x Pratt & Whitney J58-1 continuous-bleed, afterburning turbo-ramjets developing 32,500 lb of thrust.


    Hardpoints: 0
    Armament / Mission Payload:
    None. Internal provisioning limited to reconnaissance and surveillance equipment.


    A-12 - Precursor Model to the SR-71

    M-21 - A-12 with DB-21 autonomous surveillance drone mounted atop fuselage.

    M/D-21 - Designation of M-21 when mated with the DB-21 drone.

    SR-71A - Base Production Model; 30 examples produced.

    SR-71B - Two-seat trainer conversions; 2 examples produced.

    SR-71C - Interesting conversion of a surviving aft-section of an ill-fated YF-12 with a SR-71 forward section. Only one of this type was produced.

    Text ©2003-2016 www.MilitaryFactory.com. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction Permitted - the Content of this Page is NOT for reuse in any form. Email corrections/comments to MilitaryFactory at Gmail dot com. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance or general operation. Please consult original manufacturers for such information. We DO NOT sell any of the products showcased on this website so please do not inquire about purchases.