Pratt Whitney J58 Engine Lockheed Martin SR-71 Blackbird
The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird was far ahead of its time when the strategic reconnaissance aircraft debuted in 1966 to the public. It was capable of achieving speeds of Mach 3.2 at 85,000-feet, thanks to two Pratt & Whitney J58 axial-flow turbojet engines capable of generating a static thrust of 32,500 lbf.

What might surprise most is that the engines were most efficient at Mach 3.2, the SR-71’s typical cruising speed. The afterburner provided approximately 26% of the thrust at take-off, and this proportion increased progressively with speed until it provided all the thrust at about Mach 3. Dual Buick Wildcat V8 internal combustion engines were originally going to help start the SR-71’s J58 engines, but were later switched to Chevrolet big-block V8 engines before a quieter, pneumatic start system was developed for use at main operating bases. We can’t forget about the Lockheed Martin x DARPA’s Hypersonic Air Breathing Weapon Concept (HWAC) either.

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Pratt Whitney J58 Engine Lockheed Martin SR-71 Blackbird

NASA crews flew four Lockheed SR-71 airplanes during the 1990s. Two were used for research and two to support Air Force reactivation of the SR-71 for reconnaissance missions. Although the Air Force retired the Blackbirds in 1990, Congress reinstated funding for additional flights several years later. SR-71A (61-7980/NASA 844) arrived at Dryden on Feb. 15, 1990,” said Yvonne Gibbs, Editor at NASA.

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