Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The SR-71 Blackbird: The Fastest Plane on Planet Earth (And It's Sitting in a Museum)

As the Air Force’s budgets declined toward the end of the Cold War, the service could no longer justify keeping the expensive SR-71 in its inventory—especially as new threats started to emerge. The service expected that a combination of satellites and other technical means would replace the venerable jet.

The Blackbird was initially retired in 1990, even before the fall of the Soviet Union. Eventually, however, three of the jets were reactivated by the Air Force—at the insistence of Congress—for a brief period between 1995 and 1998. Meanwhile, NASA flew research missions with the aircraft until 1999. In the end, the Blackbird was retired without a true replacement. But why?


Indeed, by some accounts, the SR-71 cost as much as $200,000 per hour to operate when all of its ancillary expenses were factored in. Part of that cost stemmed from the fact that it was a small specialized fleet. Because of the small number of jets built—thirty-two—and its unique design, the SR-71 was a maintenance hog. It also required a specialized logistical train—particularly for its exotic fuel—which cost $18,000 per hour in 1989 dollars.

As the Air Force’s budgets declined toward the end of the Cold War, the service could no longer justify keeping the expensive SR-71 in its inventory—especially as new threats started to emerge. The service expected that a combination of satellites and other technical means would replace the venerable jet.
The SR-71 Blackbird: The Fastest Plane on Planet Earth (And It's Sitting in a Museum) Rating: 4.5 Posted by: Minato Namikaze