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.

Reducing the A-12 Blackbird's Cross Section

Reducing the A-12 Blackbird's Cross Section

During the spring of 1959, Kelly Johnson's Skunk Works crewwhich then numbered only 50 - had begun building a full-scale mockup of the proposed aircraft. The mockup was to be tested for its radar cross section by Edgerton, Germeshausen & Grier (EG&G) in cooperation with the Scientific Engineering Institute at a small testing facility at lndian Springs, Nevada.

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