Which missile shoots an SR71?
Why was the U-2 so different from the SR-71?
Because the requirements were different. When U-2 was developed, an aircraft was required that would fly at an altitude of 70,000 feet due to the (mistaken) assumption that the Soviets could only detect and attack aircraft below these altitudes.
However, when the U-2 entered service it became clear that they could spot U-2 (they complained about the overflights despite misidentifying the aircraft) and when a plane was shot down it became clear that U2 did not doing it will help much.
The SR-71, which came later, was the result of a requirement that expected it not only to be higher, but above all else more quickly would fly. Interestingly, the Soviets went the same way with the Mig-25R.
The main reason for the retirement of spy planes was the advent of reconnaissance satellites that cannot be shot down (not that it is impossible, but no one has done it except in tests). Spy aircraft are still only used in areas where the threat from air defense systems is extremely limited or non-existent. At the time of his retirement, the USAF accepted that even the SR-71 was not invulnerable:
In a Congressional report, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Larry D. Welch identified the increased survivability of reconnaissance satellites, the SR-71's vulnerability to the Soviet SAM-5 surface-to-air missile, and the cost of maintaining the SR-71 fleet .
The main reason U2 survived the SR-71 is the cost of ownership. The SR-71 has an hourly operating cost of $ 85,000 to $ 200,000 per hour, while the U-2 costs much less (incidentally, the U-2's operating cost is lower than its proposed replacement, the RQ-4 Global Hawk).
From the same source as above:
The Air Force's decision to retire the Blackbirds in 1990 was based on several factors. ... The cost factor is most important for the Air Force as it limits expenditure in other areas. The Reagan Administration Air Force Secretary Edward C. Aldridge Jr. estimated that the money used to operate the SR-71 fleet could operate and maintain two tactical fighter wings.
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