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LOCKHEED B-71 (SR-71)

Posted 10/28/2009 Printable Fact Sheet
 
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Lockheed SR-71
Lockheed SR-71 3/4 front view, the first SR-71A-LO delivered (S/N 61-7950). (U.S. Air Force photo)
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The B-71 designation was used briefly during the development of proposed fighter and (reconnaissance) bomber versions of the Lockheed A-12. The fighter version became the YF-12A, but the bomber version never materialized. A strategic reconnaissance version was built, which kept the bomber sequence number but dropped the bomber designation in favor of the one-of-a-kind SR designation (strategic reconnaissance). The museum has an SR-71A on display in the Cold War Gallery and a YF-12A on display in the Research and Development/Flight Test Gallery.

The SR-71, unofficially known as the Blackbird, is a long-range, advanced, strategic reconnaissance aircraft developed from the Lockheed A-12 and YF-12A aircraft. The first flight of an SR-71 took place on Dec. 22, 1964, and the first SR-71 to enter service was delivered to the 4200th (later 9th) Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., in January 1966. The USAF retired its fleet of SR-71s on Jan. 26, 1990, because of a decreasing defense budget and high costs of operation. The USAF returned the SR-71 to the active Air Force inventory in 1995 and began flying operational missions in January 1997. The aircraft was retired again in 1998.

Throughout its nearly 24-year career, the SR-71 remained the world's fastest and highest-flying operational aircraft. From 80,000 feet, it could survey 100,000 square miles of Earth's surface per hour. On July 28, 1976, an SR-71 set two world records for its class: an absolute speed record of 2,193.167 miles per hour and an absolute altitude record of 85,068.997 feet.


Type Number built/
converted
Remarks
SR-71A 29 Strategic reconnaissance aircraft
SR-71B 2 Trainer version
SR-71C 1 Hybrid aircraft (YF-12 and SR-71)


TECHNICAL NOTES:
Armament: None
Engines: Two Pratt & Whitney J58s of 32,500 lbs. thrust each with afterburner
Maximum speed: Plus 2,000 mph
Range: Plus 2,900 miles
Service ceiling: Plus 85,000 ft. 
Span: 55 ft. 7 in.
Length: 107 ft. 5 in.
Height: 18 ft. 6 in.
Weight: 170,000 lbs. loaded
Crew: Two
Serial number: SR-71A: 61-7950 to 61-7955; 61-7958 to 61-7980; SR-71B: 61-7956 and 61-7957; SR-71C: 61-7981

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