The Lockheed D-21 is an American supersonic reconnaissance drone. The D-21 was initially designed to be launched from the back of an M-21 carrier aircraft, a variant of the Lockheed A-12 aircraft. The D-21 was a top-secret stealth drone developed by the United States during the Cold War. The drone was designed to fly at high altitudes and high speeds, and it was intended to gather intelligence over enemy territory without detection.
The D-21 was developed as part of the Blackbird program, which also included the A-12 and SR-71 spy planes. However, the D-21 was unique in that it was an unmanned drone, and it was one of the first drones to be designed for stealthy operations.The D-21 was launched from a modified A-12 or SR-71 spy plane, and it was capable of flying at speeds of over Mach 3 at an altitude of up to 90,000 feet. Watch the video from Found And Explained for more info:
The drone was designed to fly over enemy territory and take high-resolution photographs, which were then transmitted back to the launch aircraft.One of the most remarkable features of the D-21 was its stealthy design. The drone was made of composite materials and had a sharp, angular shape, which helped to reduce its radar signature. Additionally, the drone was coated with a special radar-absorbent material that made it virtually invisible to radar.
Despite its advanced technology, the D-21 was not without its flaws. The drone was notoriously difficult to control, and it was prone to crashes. In fact, the very first operational D-21 mission ended in disaster when the drone crashed into the Pacific Ocean.The D-21 program was eventually canceled in 1971 due to cost overruns and technical difficulties. However, the legacy of the D-21 lives on, as it paved the way for the development of modern stealth drones like the RQ-170 Sentinel.