|Air Force To Retire SR-71 |
Air Force To Retire SR-71
Langley Air Force Base, Virginia -- April 24, 1998 -- (ACCNS) - The legendary SR-71 Blackbird, a pioneer in reconnaissance aircraft, will be permanently retired from Air Force operations.
The decision follows the Secretary of Defense's approval March 6 to permanently retire the aircraft following the President's line-item veto of the Defense Appropriations Act in October.
The Air Force currently owns six SR-71 reconnaissance aircraft.
U.S. Air Force Photo
Two SR-71A operational models were brought back to active duty in 1995 at the direction of Congress; two, including the SR-71B trainer model, are on loan to NASA for their high-altitude testing program; and two remain in returnable storage.
The Air Force is currently planning for final disposition of the airframes and associated material. Some of the SR-71 reconnaissance systems will be transferred to the U-2 and other programs. Some equipment will be transferred to NASA to support their program. Materials will be disposed of that are not transferable to other programs.
Any airframes not required by NASA will either be transferred to Air Force bases for permanent display or sent to the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. There the airframes would await U.S. Air Force Museum disposition.
Known as the Blackbird, the SR-71's existence was first announced by former president Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
Although operationally assigned to the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale AFB, Calif., the program was operating at Edwards AFB, Calif.
While in the Air Force inventory, the SR-71 set numerous world high-altitude and speed records. On July 28, 1976, an SR-71 flew 2,194 mph to set both the world absolute and class speed records over a 15 to 25 kilometer straight course. That same day, another SR-71 flew to 85,069 feet setting the record for sustained horizontal height.