World's Fastest Production Aircraft
Developed as reconnaissance aircraft in the 1960's, SR-71s are still the world's fastest and highest-flying production aircraft.
The aircraft can fly more than 2200 mph (Mach 3+ or more than three times the speed of sound) and at altitudes of over 85,000 feet. As research platforms, the aircraft can cruise at Mach 3 for more than one hour. In flight the titanium skin is heated to 500??C and expands by 15cm. The fuselage has longtitudinal creases to absorb this heat expansion but unsealed tanks leak fuel while on the ground. The Pratt & Whitney J-58 enigines start flight as turbojets, then become ramjets above Mach 1.6, requiring a steep dive due to anaemic low speed peformance. The SR-71's JP-7 fuel is used as a coolant and lubricant during flight, and contains caesium to mask the radar signature of the exhaust plume.
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