The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird was an advanced, long-range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft that was used by the United States Air Force over the span of 3 decades. It was able to operate at high speeds and altitudes to allow it to outrace threats. If the Blackbird detected the presence of a surface-to-air missile, its standard evasive action was to simply increase speed to outrun the missile. It worked every single time.
The Blackbird was introduced into the Air Force in 1966 and was a vital part of the Military’s mission in places like Vietnam and Laos. Due to budget cuts in the late 1980s, this stealthy aircraft was forced into retirement. By 1994, no suitable replacement had been developed and there was a desperate need for reconnaissance aircraft due to growing tension in the Middle East. The United States Congress budgeted funds to return the fleet to service and several aircraft were in working condition by 1995. Unfortunately, the Blackbird met a significant amount of resistance from the Air Force and was forced into a second retirement.
It’s a mystery as to why the Blackbird never became a popular aircraft. It was built for speed and stealth, and more than exceeded both of those requirements. Since 1976, the Blackbird has held the World Record for absolute speed. At its fastest, it traveled at speeds of 2,193.2 mph.
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