The Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird” is an advanced, long-range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft which was in service with the U.S. Air Force from 1964 to 1998. It was developed as a black project from the Lockheed A-12 reconnaissance aircraft in the 1960s by the Lockheed Skunk Works. Clarence “Kelly” Johnson was responsible for many of the design’s innovative concepts. During reconnaissance missions the SR-71 operated at high speeds and altitudes to allow it to outrace threats. If a surface-to-air missile launch was detected, the standard evasive action was simply to accelerate and outrun the missile.
Although twelve of the 32 original aircraft were destroyed in accidents, none were ever lost to enemy action. The SR-71 was unofficially named the Blackbird, and called the Habu by its crews, referring to an Okinawan species of pit viper. Since 1976, it has held the world record for the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft, a record previously held by the YF-12.
SR-71 Two seat training variant
YF-12 Interceptor variant