The CIA’s A-12 was Almost Obsolete Before it Ever Flew

The U-2 was meant to be America’s greatest espionage asset against the Soviet Union, invisible to radar and out of reach of missiles. But its first flights in July of 1956 revealed it was neither invisible nor, likely, invincible. To maintain a technological edge over the Soviets, the CIA and Air Force began defining a new American reconnaissance program to take its place. That program was OXCART, the program that gave us both the A-12 and the SR-71. This is the story of how that U-2 follow-up aircraft was doomed before it even left the ground.