Author(s): Lockheed SR-71 Operations in the Far East (Combat Aircraft)
Even before the first operational flight of the legendary Lockheed U-2 spy plane, aircraft design genius Kelly Johnson began work with his team at the company’s "Skunk Works" plant on the type’s replacement. The result was the SR-71. First deployed on March 9, 1968, this tri-sonic ‘hotrod’ flew its first operational sortie over North Vietnam just 12 days later. On that debut mission, the Blackbird overflew surface-to-air missile sites with complete impunity, collecting the detailed intelligence that led directly to the end of the siege of Khe Sanh in the process.
Thereafter, the SR-71 roamed freely over areas previously denied to the vulnerable U-2, capturing photographic, radar and electronic intelligence. This book examines the immense impact this revolutionary aircraft had, not only on North Vietnam (Vietnam War, 1955-1975) but during the Cold War (1946-1991) as a whole, gathering information about the Soviet nuclear submarine fleet based in Vladivostok as well as the port’s defenses, monitoring the actions of North Korea and flying four 11-hour, non-stop sorties into the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq War in the late 1980s.
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