The SR-71 Blackbird

The USAF SR-71 Blackbird Program

The SR-71 Blackbird has a long and distinguished career during it's operations for the USAF. 

 

In December 1962, the Air Force ordered six “reconnaissance/strike” aircraft for high-speed, high-altitude flights over hostile territory after a nuclear attack—hence its original designator RS. Compared to the A-12, the SR-71 was about six feet longer, weighed 15,000 pounds more fully loaded, had more prominent nose and body chines and a two-seat cockpit, and carried additional optical and radar imagery systems and ELINT sensors in interchangeable noses.

10 Apr 1986

Libya Operation "El Dorado Canyon"

Libya Operation "El Dorado Canyon"

Author: Blackbird Historian  /  Categories: USAF Operations  / 

Muammar al-Qadhafi: In the early 1980's Qadhafi had decided to increase pressure on the West through subsidizing terrorism. In 1986 Qadhafi, who was maintaining some 22 terrorist camps in Libya, responded to the increased US presence off Libya by announcing a 'line of death' enclosing the Gulf of Sirte. In addition to other Libyan terrorist acts, on 5 April 1986, the La Belle discotheque in Berlin was blown up and a US serviceman was killed. There was evidence of Libyan complicity and the US Government decided to act "in exercise of the inherent right of self-defense recognized in article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations". Thus operation "El Dorado Canyon" was launched in retaliation for Qadhafi's terrorist activities.

RAF Mildenhall in England was to be home to C-135C 61-2669 of the 4950 Test Wing, USAF


Systems Command from 10 April; the aircraft with a special avionics and communications suite was used as a command/VIP transport. At about the same time several several 55SRW
RC-135Ws and a sole RC-135V (6414842) flew through, presumably bound for Hellenikon AB, Greece, and the 922 Support Squadron. These aircraft, together with EP-3Es and ERA-3Bs of VQ-2 at Rota, Spain, were to pursue intelligence gathering and control functions. The U-2Rs of Det 3, 9 SRS, 99 SRW at RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus were supplemented by several TR-1As from 95 RS, 17 RW from RAF Alconbury and together with SR-71A's of Det 4 of 9th SRW at Mildenhall were engaged in the reconnaissance of possible target areas in Libya.

 

Additionally, after the joint operations, two SR-71 Blackbirds performed post-attack reconnaissance.

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