Strategic Air Command
The Lockheed SR-71, "Blackbird"
The SR-71 is a twin-engine turbojet aircraft with a delta wing and a long, slim, aerodynamic fuselage. It is made primarily of titanium to withstand the extreme temperatures of high-mach flight. It measures 107.4 feet in length, 55.6 feet wide and 18.5 feet to the top of the twin vertical stabilizers. The engines generate over 30,000 pounds of thrust. Most of the fuselage is filled with fuel tanks with the rest taking up photographic and electronic sensors. The aircraft is highly stable at all speeds and altitudes. Because the high speed of the SR-71 places extreme demands on the pilot a computer was developed to integrate and control all the performance factors and flight characteristics of the aircraft. This amazing aircraft made its first flight in April 1962. President Johnson accidentally revealed the existence of the aircraft during a briefing in Feb 1964. The aircraft was delivered to SAC in January 1966. A product of the "Skunk Works" the aircraft still holds a number of world speed and altitude records. The SR-71 has an advertised speed capability of Mach 3+. It has flown to 85,069 feet and as flown from London to New York in under 2 hours. Retired from SAC at the end of the 80s, NASA still operates some as test and research aircraft.
The Lockheed U-2
The U-2 was the high-altitude multisensor aircraft which first came to the world's
attention, on 1 May 1960 when the Soviet Union shot one down and captured CIA pilot Francis Gary Powers. The incident became the focus of a Cold War controversy but until then the aircraft was well kept secret. The "Skunk Works" started work on the project in 1954 with first flight in 1955. Deliveries began the following year
The Boeing RC-135
The RC-135 is a long-range reconnaissance platform which was designed to track and monitor Soviet radar and telemetry capabilities. The aircraft is another variant of that wonderful Boeing KC-135 airframe. A number of RC variants exist. These aircraft are easily identified by their "puffy cheeks," bulging radar housing on each side of the fuselage just in front of the wings. They also exhibit elongated noses and numerous bump and blade antennae along the fyselage. There no refueling boom on these aircraft
Return to the Air Force Page
Last update 17 Mar 98