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The Myasishchev M-17 "Mystic" (Ram-M) high-altitude aircraft is the Soviet equivalent of the U-2. This twin-boomed aircraft with a high aspect ratio wing was initially developed to shoot down US reconnaissance balloons drifting over the USSR in the mid-1950s. Subsequently it was modified as single-seat reconnaissance and research aircraft. The first two prototypes (Mystic-A) had a single turbojet engine, and were used for aerodynamic and atmospheric research. The subsequent M-55 (Mystic-B), also designated M-17R, was a twin-jet version built by the Molniya Scientific and Industrial Enterprise (which absorbed the Myasishchev Bureau). Cameras and other sensors are housed in a large compartment in the lower fuselage.
High altitude M-55 Geophysica aircraft. Aircraft M-55 Geophysica is capable to fly in any geographic latitude in visual and instrument meteorological conditions. M-55 Geophysica aircraft is a modification of M-17 Stratosphera aircraft by which 25 world records have been set up. The aircraft structure embodies all achievements of M-17 that provide highly efficient performance of this new high altitude aircraft. In 1993 M-55 Geophysica aircraft set up 16 world records.