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Lockheed SR-71 (Blackbird)


High-Altitude, High-Speed Reconnaissance Aircraft (1966)


Aviation / Aerospace

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Jump-to: Specifications

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



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 04/27/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.
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.

For a more in-depth look into the SR-71 including performance figures, imagery, and fleet history, visit SR71blackbird.org.

Specifications



Service Year
1966

Origin
United States national flag graphic
United States

Status
RETIRED
Not in Service.
Crew
2

Production
32
UNITS


Lockheed Skunkworks, Lockheed Corporation - USA
National flag of the United States United States (retired)
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
Special Forces
Serving Special Forces / Special Operations elements and missions.


RADAR-CAPABLE
Houses, or can house (through specialized variants), radar equipment for searching, tracking, and engagement of enemy elements.
MULTI-ENGINE
Incorporates two or more engines, enhancing survivability and / or performance.
WING SWEEPBACK
Mainplanes, or leading edges, features swept-back lines for enhanced high-speed performance and handling.
INTERNAL BAY
Fuselage volume includes space for internally-held weapons or special-mission equipment.
HIGH-SPEED PERFORMANCE
Can accelerate to higher speeds than average aircraft of its time.
HIGH-ALTITUDE PERFORMANCE
Can reach and operate at higher altitudes than average aircraft of its time.
EXTENDED RANGE PERFORMANCE
Capability to travel considerable distances through onboard fuel stores.
SUPER PERFORMANCE
Design covers the three all-important performance categories of speed, altitude, and range.
A2A REFUELING
Capability to accept fuel from awaiting allied aircraft while in flight.
PILOT / CREW EJECTION SYSTEM
Assisted process of allowing its pilot and / or crew to eject in the event of an airborne emergency.
CREWSPACE PRESSURIZATION
Supports pressurization required at higher operating altitudes for crew survival.
CREW-MANAGED
Beyond a pilot, the aircraft takes advantage of additional crew specialized in specific functions aboard the aircraft.
ENCLOSED CREWSPACE(S)
Features partially- or wholly-enclosed crew workspaces.
RETRACTABLE UNDERCARRIAGE
Features retracting / retractable undercarriage to preserve aerodynamic efficiency.
CAMERA EQUIPMENT
Payload supports photographic equipment providing still and / or real-time image / video results.


Length
107.4 ft
(32.74 m)
Width/Span
55.6 ft
(16.94 m)
Height
18.5 ft
(5.64 m)
Empty Wgt
67,506 lb
(30,620 kg)
MTOW
172,005 lb
(78,020 kg)
Wgt Diff
+104,499 lb
(+47,400 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Lockheed SR-71A production variant)
Installed: 2 x Pratt & Whitney J58-1 continuous-bleed, afterburning turbo-ramjets developing 32,500 lb of thrust with reheat.
Max Speed
2,274 mph
(3,660 kph | 1,976 kts)
Ceiling
85,007 ft
(25,910 m | 16 mi)
Range
3,682 mi
(5,925 km | 10,973 nm)
Rate-of-Climb
11,820 ft/min
(3,603 m/min)


♦ MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030


(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the Lockheed SR-71A production variant. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database. View aircraft by powerplant type)
None. Internal provisioning limited to reconnaissance and surveillance equipment.


SR-71 - Base Series Designation, "Blackbird" name being unofficial.
A-12 - Precursor reconnaissance platform to the SR-71.
M-21 - A-12 with DB-21 autonomous surveillance drone mounted atop SR-71 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 with elevated instructor's cockpit; 2 examples produced.
SR-71C - Conversion involving surviving aft-section of an ill-fated YF-12 with SR-71 forward section; single example completed.


Cockpit image of the Lockheed SR-71 (Blackbird)
(Cockpit image represents the Lockhedd SR-71A production model)


General Assessment
Firepower  
Performance  
Survivability  
Versatility  
Impact  


Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
Overall Rating
The overall rating takes into account over 60 individual factors related to this aircraft entry.
74
Rating is out of a possible 100 points.
Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 5000mph
Lo: 2500mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (2,274mph).

Graph average of 3,750 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Lockheed SR-71A operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
Max Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Design Balance
The 3 qualities we look at for a balanced aircraft design are altitude, speed, and range.
Aviation Era Span
Pie graph section
Showcasing era cross-over of this aircraft design.
Unit Production (32)
32
36183
44000
This entry's total production compared against the most-produced military and civilian aircraft types in history (Ilyushin IL-2 and Cessna 172, respectively).
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