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The Oxcart Story

SR-71, management of development effort,
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OXCART   

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Land's office in Cambridge. Lockheed and Convair designers attended during parts of the sessions. So also did the Assistant Secretaries of the Air Force and Navy concerned with research and development, together with one or two of their technical advisors. One useful consequence of the participation of service representatives was that bureaucratic and jurisdictional feuds were reduced virtually to nil. Throughout the program both Air Force and Navy gave valuable assistance and cooperation.
 
As the months went by, the general outlines of what might be done took shape in the minds of those concerned. Late in November 1958, the members of the panel held a crucial meeting. They agreed that it now appeared feasible to build an aircraft of such speed and altitude as to be very difficult to track by radar. They recommended that the President be asked to approve in principle a further prosecution of the project, and to make funds available for further studies and tests. The President and his Scientific Advisor, Dr. James Killian, were already aware of what was going on, and when CIA officials went to them with the recommendation of the panel they received a favorable hearing. The President gave his approval. Lockheed and Convair were then asked to submit definite proposals, funds were made available to them, and the project took on the code name GUSTO.
 
Less than a year later the two proposals were essentially complete, and on 20 July 1959, the President was again briefed. This time he gave final approval, which signified that the program could get fully under way.
 
The next major step was to choose between the Lockheed and Convair designs. On 20 August 1959 specifications of the two proposals were submitted to a joint DOD/USAF/CIA selection panel:
           
      Lockheed Convair  
           
    Speed  Mach 3.2  Mach 3.2  
    Range (total) 4,120 n.m. 4,000 n.m.  
    Range (at altitude) 3,800 n.m. 3,400 n.m.  
           
    Cruise Altitudes 84,500 ft. 85,000 ft.  
           
    Start      
    Mid-range  91,000 ft.  88,000 ft.  
    End  97,600 ft. 94,000 ft.  
           
    Dimensions      
           
    Length   102 ft.  79.5 ft.  
           
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Posted: May 08, 2007 09:01 AM
Last Updated: May 08, 2007 09:01 AM