SR-71 designstion?

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Airman 1st Class
Jan 11, 2009
So first we had the A-12 then the YF-12. So why was the SR -71 not called the SR-12?


Senior Airman
Sep 23, 2006


1st Sergeant
May 30, 2011
Cape Canaveral
A-12 was the Lockheed company designation. Most aircraft have both manufacturer and military designations. The KC-135 was the Boeing 717 (a designation since reused for the DC-9). The P-51D-5-NA was the NA-109. Reportedly, the designation of the SR-71 was supposed to be RS-71 but Johnson flubbed the announcement. An SR-71 should be an antisubmarine modification of a recon aircraft, or something.

The weirdest designation ever is another Lockheed aircraft, the F-117. Despite assertions to the contrary, the Air Force did not secretly keep using the Century Series designations and employ it for the F-117. When the F-117 was still classified it was known as Program 117, and when they started printing manuals they had to call it something. While it is not really a Fighter but more of an Attack airplane, and they even flew A-7D's to train for F-117 missions, the head of TAC said, "The best Air Force fighter pilots will be flying this airplane and no fighter pilot would ever want to fly anything designed "A.""


Apr 9, 2005
Colorado, USA
The KC-135 was the Boeing 717 (a designation since reused for the DC-9).
The Boeing 717 designation was attached to the MD-95 (from the DC-9) family. When McDonnel Douglas got swallowed up by Boeing, they decided to continue the program. I briefly worked on the program, BAE Flight systems in Palmdale CA built the wings in a facility next to USAF Plant 42 which were trucked down to Long Beach where the 717 was built.

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