a reply to: ajsr71
I've got a hunch that the A-12 vs SR-71 flyoff might not have been the only one at the time.
Consider the following:
The A-12 would have been a hell of an operational testbed of sorts for the logistics of operating an aircraft that officially did not exist,
especially in terms of operational security, tarmac security, and maintenance of both of those while operating out of forward bases like Kadena. The
fact that the USAF had an interceptor testbed AND an operational strategic reconaissance aircraft that looked identical to the A-12 also meant that
once they were really pushing the Oxcart out of Groom and onto foreign airbases, they now had the perfect cover with which to maintain plausible
deniability should someone on-base happen to see an A-12 when they shouldn't, since they could now straight-up say "What you saw was an SR-71, now
move along" like they did while searching for the downed Oxcart in the South China Sea.
That all meant that the CIA/NRO and the USAF higher-ups had all the troubleshooting out of the way in terms of basing procedures were they to roll-out
another "aircraft that did not officially exist" that might look considerably less like an A-12/SR-71.
Now, also take a look at the M-21/D-21 program, which many within the Skunk Works including Kelly Johnson himself were on record as stating that that
they believed that it had been pushed too quickly and assumed too risky of a flight schedule which ultimately got people killed in situations that
were largely preventable.
The official story has always been that the riskiness/rushing of that project was due to CIA deadlines, but what if the Skunk Works had instead been
pushed to throw the D-21 program as a last-ditch attempt to put together a competitor system to another, still-classified, and more capable system
that might have been entering into consideration or even into service to replace the A-12 during the late 60's. Notice that the development of ECHO-1
and what ultimately led to the Have Blue began around the same time that the D-21 project was failing. Maybe it was just a coincidence, but it also
could have been pivot/re-organization after a competition loss, a-la Northrop Grumman's massive research into CFD and RAM technologies after they lost
the XST pole tests, that ultimately produced Tacit Blue and the ATB.
It's 100% baseless speculation, for sure, but it's like searching for a whale. It's massive, but hidden, and you can't always see the whale, other
than the odd, lucky glimpse of some part of it, but if you look hard enough, while it moves out of sight, you can see the eddies that it leaves behind
on the surface and get at least a sense of what might be there.
Then again, sometimes an eddy is just an eddy.