D-21: The Mach 2 Drone Sent to Spy on China’s Nuclear Bomb Tests
The SR-71 Blackbird spy plane was one fantastic asset for the U.S. military. However, there was a smaller version that seems to have been a smaller version of the SR-71 that was used to spy on China. Enter the D-21: The concept of “military drone” is one that is often associated with the 21st century, but actually dates back more than a century. In fact, the first drones were essentially radio-controlled target aircraft that took flight during the First World War.
Fast forward a half-century, and the technology had advanced considerably.
Meet the D-21 – The Drone Designed to Spy on China
During the Cold War, Lockheed developed the D-21, a supersonic reconnaissance drone that could be launched from the back of an M-21 carrier aircraft – a variant of the Mach 3+ A-12 spy plane. Originally designed for the Central Intelligence Service (CIA) and the United States Air Force surveillance missions over particularly hostile territories, the D-21 was a remotely piloted…