Spy vs Spy Week

Making OXCART

A lineup of A-12s, quite possibly at Groom Lake

The U-2 reconnaissance aircraft was developed and became operational in the mid 1950s, and while it was successful, CIA officials had predicted that the aircraft’s useful lifetime for flights over the USSR would only be around 18 months. In its first flights over Soviet territory, the U-2 was detected and tracked very successfully by their air defense warning system. Efforts were made to make the U-2 less vulnerable, and new advances in radar-absorbent materials were tried and were successful to a degree, but not enough to solve the problem. A number of different analyses determined that supersonic speed made radar detection less likely, and it was decided that an extremely fast, high flying aircraft that also incorporated the best stealth technology available was the approach to take.

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Startup

Startup: What Could Be More Awesome Than Flame Shockwaves?

The Pratt & Whitney J58 showing off its shock-waves.

For those of you unfamiliar, please meet the astonishing Pratt & Whitney J58, which may be the most convincing argument in favour of hybrid technology I’ve ever heard. Oh sure, it’s not a hybrid in the boring sense of a Toyota Prius, but strap […]

Stealth Week

Can’t See It, Can’t Catch It: The CIA’s OXCART Dart

While the transparent behemoth that I wrote about earlier is probably the first aircraft designed with a form of stealth intentionally built-in, the Lockheed family of supersonic lawn darts starting with the A-12 pictured above were the first operational aircraft engineered to reduce their RADAR profile – what we currently picture as stealth technology.

Continue reading Can’t See It, Can’t Catch It: The CIA’s OXCART Dart

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