A Brief History
Succeeded by it's younger Blackbird counterpart, the A-12 Oxcart was Lockheed's response to the U.S. Air Force's (USAF) need for a high-altitude supersonic strategic reconnaissance aircraft. Smaller, faster, more stealthy, and agile than it's younger counterpart, the A-12 conducted a field of operations over Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Soviet bloc. So secretive was it's existence that it was hiding almost in plain sight. To cover up the A-12 program, the USAF posited that the aircraft was a high-speed interceptor known as the YF-12. The YF-12 variant featured a nose cone juxtaposed to the tapered design in the Blackbird and the Oxcart.
The existence of the A-12 and it's mission set was not revealed to the public until after the turn of the twenty-first century - over thirty years since it had last flown.
The nomenclature for the A-12 can be traced back to it's developmental history. A formal designation was never given; likely due to its secrecy. The "A" referred to Lockheed's program that aimed to replace the U-2 Dragon Lady; Archangel. The Archangel program had twelve different designs within it that were presented as feasible replacements between 1956 and 1959. The produced design was number twelve, hence the "-12" designation.
Of the fifteen aircraft produced, only nine remain with the remainder lost.
Quick Facts & Specifications
|Powerplant:||2x Pratt & Whitney J58-1 Turbojets|
|Thrust:||32,500 lbs ea., 65,000 lbs total|
|Speed:||2,631 mph (Maximum), 2,297 mph (Cruise)|
|Ceiling:||Over 85,000 feet|
|Range:||2,900 miles (without refuel)|
|Weight:||117,000 lbs (Maximum)|
|Dimensions:||55'7" W 101'7" L 18'6" H|
|Service History:||First Flight, 1962
Full Introduction, 1967