a reply to: mightmight
Kingfish was actually marginally slower and lower flying than the A-12 (the way the SR-71 was slower and lower).
Where the Kingfish utterly eviscerated the A-12 was on the RCS pole, but with all the complex inlet geometry required to hide the fan discs and the
brand-new materials like Pyro-Ceram that were needed to achieve the low RCS (on top of the already untested J58/JP-7 powerplant), the A-12 was seen as
the simpler, less risky design (with acceptable RCS management elements) at a time when height and speed were seen to be the gold standard for evading
That was in 1959.
Then, Gary Powers happened.
1960 was a rude awakening as to the real power of modern SAM systems, and suddenly the real strategic advantages offered by low-RCS designs began to
show themselves, as the US realized that they would never be able to out-fly a good missile. That doctrine has lived on until today, and it shows no
signs of changing.
That's why, in the 60s, you began to see the beginnings of true stealth experimentation with designs like the Boeing Quiet Bird or the
Teledyne-Ryan low-RCS drone designs.
Now, my hunch is that the CIA decided to greenlight the Kingfish with its much lower RCS sometime in the very early 60s, but also opted not to cancel
the A-12, which was then undergoing a very smooth development process, as a hedge against all of the new technologies that were integral to the
Kingfish's mission advantage. So in a way, the A-12 could have very well been a testbed of sorts to evaluate the J-58/JP-7 combo as well as the
rigors of maintaining OpSec while operating and forward-basing an aircraft that didn't officially exist. That last bit is especially important, as by
all accounts, the USAF/CIA/NRO doctrine on black aircraft, all of which are stealth designs, is to keep their very existence a SAP-level secret so
that the state actors on the receiving ends of such birds don't even know what to look for.
The decision to hand the A-12 program's scraps over to the USAF as the YF-12 and the SR-71 likely came around the time that the Kingfish and he new
technologies were coming together, to create another level of OpSec by now having a true white world craft to attribute any sightings/booms/whatever
to, and I would bet that Kingfish was taking her first flights around the time that the YF-12 and SR-71 went white in 1964, with it hitting IOC in
1967 or so.
It's all conjecture, but it fits beautifully with what we know about the A-12's timeline.
As a coda, I'll add this: The Kingfish was a roughly 70 degree delta design with a very short nose, and for all intents and purposes, would have
resembled a black triangle from below. At 73 feet long, it would have been more or less the exact same length as an F-111. Sound familiar?
edit on 27-4-2017 by Barnalby because: (no reason given)