Concernant les reactivations (récentes) du SR-71 :
Due to increasing unease about political conditions in the Middle East and North Korea, the U.S. Congress re-examined the SR-71 beginning in 1993. At a hearing of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, Senator J. James Exon (noting Senator John Glenn's disapproval of reactivating the SR-71) asked Admiral Richard C. Macke
“ If we have the satellite intelligence that you collectively would like us to have, would that type of system eliminate the need for an SR-71… Or even if we had this blanket up there that you would like in satellites, do we still need an SR-71?” Macke replied “From the operator's perspective, what I need is something that will not give me just a spot in time but will give me a track of what is happening. When we are trying to find out if the Serbs are taking arms, moving tanks or artillery into Bosnia, we can get a picture of them stacked up on the Serbian side of the bridge. We do not know whether they then went on to move across that bridge. We need the [data] that a tactical, an SR-71, a U-2, or an unmanned vehicle of some sort, will give us, in addition to, not in replacement of, the ability of the satellites to go around and check not only that spot but a lot of other spots around the world for us. It is the integration of strategic and tactical." ”
Rear Admiral Thomas F. Hall addressed the question of why the SR-71 was retired, saying it was under "the belief that, given the time delay associated with mounting a mission, conducting a reconnaissance, retrieving the data, processing it, and getting it out to a field commander, that you had a problem in timeliness that was not going to meet the tactical requirements on the modern battlefield. And the determination was that if one could take advantage of technology and develop a system that could get that data back real time… that would be able to meet the unique requirements of the tactical commander." Hall stated that "the Advanced Airborne Reconnaissance System, which was going to be an unmanned UAV” would meet the requirements but was not affordable at the time. He said that they were “looking at alternative means of doing [the job of the SR-71]."
Macke told the committee that they were “flying U-2s, RC-135s, [and] other strategic and tactical assets” to collect information in some areas.
Senator Robert Byrd and other Senators complained that the “better than” successor to the SR-71 had yet to be developed at the cost of the "good enough" serviceable aircraft. They maintained that, in a time of constrained military budgets, designing, building, and testing an aircraft with the same capabilities as the SR-71 would be impossible.
Congress' disappointment with the lack of a suitable replacement for the Blackbird was cited concerning whether to continue funding imaging sensors on the U-2. Congressional conferees stated the "experience with the SR-71 serves as a reminder of the pitfalls of failing to keep existing systems up-to-date and capable in the hope of acquiring other capabilities."
It was agreed to add $100 million to the budget to return three SR-71s to service, but it was emphasized that this "would not prejudice support for long-endurance UAVs [such as the Global Hawk]." The funding was later cut to $72.5 million. The Skunk Works was able to return the aircraft to service under budget, coming in at $72 million.
Colonel Jay Murphy (USAF Retired) was made the Program Manager for Lockheed’s reactivation plans. Retired Air Force Colonels Don Emmons and Barry MacKean were put under government contract to remake the plane’s logistic and support structure. Still-active Air Force pilots and Reconnaissance Systems Officers (RSOs) who had worked with the aircraft were asked to volunteer to fly the reactivated planes. The aircraft was under the command and control of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base and flew out of a renovated hangar at Edwards Air Force Base. Modifications were made to provide a data-link with "near real-time" transmission of the Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar's imagery to sites on the ground.
The reactivation met much resistance: the Air Force had not budgeted for the aircraft, and UAV developers worried that their programs would suffer if money was shifted to support the SR-71s. Also, with the allocation requiring yearly reaffirmation by Congress, long-term planning for the SR-71 was difficult. In 1996, the Air Force claimed that specific funding had not been authorized, and moved to ground the program. Congress reauthorized the funds, but, in October 1997, President Bill Clinton used the line-item veto to cancel the $39 million allocated for the SR-71. In June 1998, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the line-item veto was unconstitutional. All this left the SR-71's status uncertain until September 1998, when the Air Force called for the funds to be redistributed. The plane was permanently retired in 1998. The Air Force quickly disposed of their SR-71s, leaving NASA with the two last flyable Blackbirds until 1999. All other Blackbirds have been moved to museums except for the two SR-71s and a few D-21 drones retained by the NASA Dryden Research Center.
Important dates pulled from many sources.
* 24 December 1957: First J58 engine run.
* 1 May 1960: Francis Gary Powers is shot down in a Lockheed U-2 over the Soviet Union.
* 13 June 1962: SR-71 mock-up reviewed by Air Force.
* 30 July 1962: J58 completes pre-flight testing.
* 28 December 1962: Lockheed signs contract to build six SR-71 aircraft.
* 25 July 1964: President Johnson makes public announcement of SR-71.
* 29 October 1964: SR-71 prototype (#61-7950) delivered to Palmdale.
* 7 December 1964: Beale AFB, CA announced as base for SR-71.
* 22 December 1964: First flight of the SR-71 with Lockheed test pilot Bob Gilliland at AF Plant #42.
* 21 July 1967: Jim Watkins and Dave Dempster fly first international sortie in SR-71A #61-7972 when the Astro-Inertial Navigation System ( ANS ) fails on a training mission and they accidentally fly into Mexican airspace.
* 3 November 1967: A-12 and SR-71 conduct a reconnaissance fly-off. Results were questionable.
* 5 February 1968: Lockheed ordered to destroy A-12, YF-12, and SR-71 tooling.
* 8 March 1968: First SR-71A (#61-7978) arrives at Kadena AB to replace A-12s.
* 21 March 1968: First SR-71 (#61-7976) operational mission flown from Kadena AB over Vietnam.
* 29 May 1968: CMSGT Bill Gornik begins the tie-cutting tradition of Habu crews neck-ties.
* 3 December 1975: First flight of SR-71A #61-7959 in "Big Tail" configuration.
* 20 April 1976: TDY operations started at RAF Mildenhall in SR-71A #17972.
* 27 July 1976 - 28 July 1976: SR-71A sets speed and altitude records (Altitude in Horizontal Flight: 85,068.997 ft (25,929.030 m) and Speed Over a Straight Course: 2,193.167 mph).
* August 1980: Honeywell starts conversion of AFICS to DAFICS.
* 15 January 1982: SR-71B #61-7956 flies its 1,000th sortie.
* 21 April 1989: #974 was lost due to an engine explosion after taking off from Kadena AB. This was the last Blackbird to be lost, it was the first SR-71 accident in 18 years, and it is also the longest accident-free streak of any USAF aircraft.
* 22 November 1989: Air Force SR-71 program officially terminated.
* 21 January 1990: Last SR-71 (#61-7962) left Kadena AB.
* 26 January 1990: SR-71 is decommissioned at Beale AFB, CA.
* 6 March 1990: Last SR-71 flight under SENIOR CROWN program, setting four speed records enroute to Smithsonian Institution.
* 25 July 1991: SR-71B #61-7956/NASA #831 officially delivered to NASA Dryden.
* October 1991: Marta Bohn-Meyer becomes first female SR-71 crew-member.
* 28 September 1994: Congress votes to allocate $100 million for reactivation of three SR-71s.
* 26 April 1995: First reactivated SR-71A (#61-7971) makes its first flight after restoration by Lockheed.
* 28 June 1995: First reactivated SR-71 returns to Air Force as Detachment 2. * 28 August 1995: Second reactivated SR-71A (#61-7967) makes first flight after restoration.
* 2 August 1997: A NASA SR-71 made multiple flybys at the Oshkosh Airventure air show. It was then supposed to perform a sonic boom at 53,000 feet after a midair refueling, but a fuel flow problem caused it to divert to Milwaukee. Two weeks later, the pilot's flight path brought him over Oshkosh again, and there was, in fact, a sonic boom.
* 19 October 1997: The last flight of SR-71B #61-7956 at Edwards AFB Open House.
* 9 October 1999: The last flight of the SR-71 (#61-7980/NASA 844).
* September 2002: Final resting places of #956, #971, and #980 are made known.
* 15 December 2003: SR-71 #972 goes on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.
Quelle tache ! je n'ai pas sauvegardé le lien !!
Sinon, concernant un aspect plus R&D, on a des traces d'utilisations du SR-71 jusqu'en 98-00 (au moins). Notamment dans le cadre du projet LASREhttp://images.google.fr/images?hl=fr&um=1&q=+site:mm04.nasaimages.org+sr71+lasre