The SR-71 Blackbird

The CIA A-12 Blackbird Program


The A-12 started out as an USAF interceptor to replace the cancelled F-108A Rapier. In October 1962, CIA authorized the Skunk Works to study the feasibility of modifying the A-12 to carry and deploy a reconnaissance drone for unmanned overflight of denied areas. The project was codenamed TAGBOARD.

7 Mar 2018

A-12 Blackbird: Blackshield Missions

A-12 Blackbird: Blackshield Missions

Author: SR Admin  /  Categories: A-12 History  /  Rate this article:

Fifteen BLACK Shield Missions high-altitude reconnaissance missions were alerted during the period from 1 January to 31 March 1968. Six of the 15 missions were flown, four over North Vietnam and two over North Korea. Eight missions were cancelled due to weather conditions, and approval for one Korean mission was not obtained.

Black Shield photography of North Vietnam through 31 March 1968 revealed no evidence of surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, equipment or facilities. Mission BX6843 photographed two suspect surface-to-surface (cruise) missile sites near Thanh Hoa. One site was unoccupied and the second contained a few small unidentified objects.

The Black Shield program provided initial baseline coverage of North Korea on missions BX6847 and BX6853 with readable coverage of 70 percent of the country. These two missions supplied current photography of North Korean industrial and transportation systems and updated the existing order of battle.

The ability of the Black Shield program to react rapidly is demonstrated by the photographs of the USS Pueblo at anchor in Wonsan Bay obtained on mission BX6847. This mission was flown on 26 January, three days after the USS Pueblo was seized and one day after approval was granted.

The Black Shield program has continued to supply good coverage of North Vietnam, particularly oder of battle information of fighter aircraft and surface-to-air missile defences. The program has contributed substantially to bomb damage assessment of point targets and of the interdiction effort directed against North Vietnamese road, rail, and water transportation systems.


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More links

  • Source:The CIA Library Center for Advanced Intelligence
  • SourcePDF: Black Shield Missions - 1 Jan - 31 Mar 1968