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The Lockheed SR-71 is an advanced, long-range, Mach 3 strategic reconnaissance aircraft developed from the Lockheed A-12 and YF-12A aircraft by the Lockheed Skunk Works as a Black project. The SR-71 was unofficially named the Blackbird, and called the Habu by its crews, referring to an Okinawan species of pit viper. Clarence "Kelly" Johnson was responsible for many of the design's innovative concepts. A defensive feature of the aircraft was its high speed and operating altitude, whereby, if a surface-to-air missile launch were detected, standard evasive action was simply to accelerate. The SR-71 line was in service from 1964 to 1998, with 12 of the 32 aircraft being destroyed in accidents, though none were lost to enemy action.
A particularly difficult issue with flight at over Mach 3 is the high temperatures generated. As an aircraft moves through the air, the air in front of the aircraft compresses and this heats the air, and the heat conducts into the aircraft's airframe. To help with this, high temperature materials were needed and the airframe was substantially made of titanium, obtained from the USSR, at the height of the Cold War. Lockheed used many guises to prevent the Soviet government knowing what the titanium was to be used for. In order to control costs, Lockheed used a more easily-worked alloy of titanium which softened at a lower temperature. Finished aircraft were painted a dark blue (almost black) to increase the emission of internal heat (since fuel was used as a heat sink for avionics cooling) and to act as camouflage against the sky. The aircraft was designed to minimize its radar cross-section, an early attempt at stealth design.