The Lockheed SR-71.Photo: James (Jim) Gordon CC BY 2.0. The Lockheed SR-71'Blackbird' is a long-range, high-altitude, Mach 3+ tactical reconnaissance aircraft developed and manufactured by the American aerospace firm Lockheed Corporation. The original Blackbird was designated the A-12 and was a single-seat aircraft. During the Cold War, both SR-71s and A-12s were the CIA’s striking force in obtaining important data from rival countries. The YF-12 was a twin-seat version of the A-12. A-12/YF-12A/SR-71 Blackbird Ejection Seat Illustrations The following are a few pictures of the SR-1 Ejection seat. Lockheed YF-12. The A-12 was the original design. The YF-12 was interceptor version of the A-12. The SR-71 was actually a built-up version of the earlier Lockheed A-12, a reconnaissance plane made in the early 1960’s to replace the U-2 spy plane. The Lockheed A-12 line gave way to the YF-12, which later gave way to the Lockheed SR-71. The SR-71 was a further development of the A-12 with the two seats of the YF-12. Of course, the A-12 couldn’t carry as much fuel, and its sensor payload was less, but an A-12 pilot was spared the annoyance of a yappy passenger in the rear seat. Ironically, it was the success of the A-12’s other descendant, the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird that killed the Lockheed YF-12 so to speak. Essentially, yes. It was, after all, a significantly lighter aircraft. While the A-12 could carry some of this gear individually, it had to swap out particular sensors per-mission, according to the report. 4. It was just him and his plane. This in turn revealed that the Lockheed … Designed to be an interceptor, the YF-12 set the speed records that would only be surpassed by the legendary SR-71. This meant that the A-12 was lighter and could fly 2,000 to 5,000-feet higher than the SR-71 at comparative speeds. The A-12 soon evolved in to the larger SR-71, which added a second seat for a Reconnaissance Systems Officer who controlled the sensors needed for each mission. It also has the distinction of being a publicly announced aircraft, which had benefits of keeping the A-12 a secret because the public couldn’t tell the difference. The first flight for the YF-12 experimental aircraft took place on August 7, 1963. The space where the RSO for the SR-71 went was originally called the “Q-Bay” on the A-12, and usually contained mission-specific avionics or ECM equipment. The development and initial flights were kept totally secret until President Johnson officially announced the YF-12 line on February 24, 1964. The numbers show that the A-12 was a little faster and could climb a little higher than the SR-71. The A-12 is the forerunner of the SR-71 and has nearly the same shape and dimensions as its replacement. 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