VIDEO: Lockheed YF-12 Blackbird

Check out this NASA video about the Mach 3+ Lockheed YF-12 Blackbird interceptor, which was developed from the Central Intelligence Agency’s A-12 reconnaissance aircraft. Though ultimately it would not go into production, the three pre-production aircraft did find success as research planes for NASA.YF12-1000

The YF-12 was developed after the cancellation of the North American XF-108 Rapier—another Mach 3+ interceptor—using many of the same mission systems including the Hughes AN/ASG-18 pulse-doppler radar and long-range Hughes AIM-47 Falcon missiles.[youtube][/youtube]

Though the USAF did order 93 F-12B production jets for its now-defunct Air Defense Command, as the threat of Soviet bomber attacks on the continental United States diminished, the need for such an interceptor evaporated. The program was cancelled in early 1968 by then SecDef Robert McNamara.

Following the program’s termination, the planes were flown by NASA pilots for about 10 years or so.

4 Responses to VIDEO: Lockheed YF-12 Blackbird

  1. sferrin 13 October, 2013 at 1:46 am #

    On of my favorite might-have-beens. Would have been perfect for the “Pacific Pivot”.

  2. jetcal1 15 October, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

    Oh yeah, I could picture the joy of replenishing the TEB post flight. “Here kid, go service the engine with this nice hypergolic starting fluid. Oh, BTW don’t spill any or you’ll explode.”

    • sferrin 16 October, 2013 at 1:55 am #

      The seem to have managed for 30 years just fine.

  3. F-14D 18 October, 2013 at 1:20 am #

    It wasn’t so much that, “… the need for such an interceptor evaporated”. In reality, Robert McNamara wanted the Air Force to buy his brainchild, the F-111, as an interceptor. No one was interested in the F-111 for such a mission and Congress funded the F-12B. In order to prevent this from happening, McNamara ordered the production line on which the F-12B would be built destroyed. Then he told the AF, it’s the F-111 or nothing (F-106X was not seriously an option). AF wisely chose, “nothing”.

    By destroying the production line to keep the F-12B from being built, McNamara also destroyed any chance of further SR-71 or any other Blackbird variant ever being possible. .

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