That’s not surprising: while Britain had been on the forefront of aviation technology before World War II, by the 1960s, America’s much vaster defense budgets and resources enabled development of high-tech aircraft that other nations could only dream of.
In 1955, the RAF awarded a development contract to Avro, the aircraft manufacturer behind the Vulcan as well as the legendary Lancaster bomber of World War II.
And to make development of the spy plane even more complicated, the RAF eventually added a requirement that the aircraft become a reconnaissance bomber capable of dropping nuclear weapons.
To support its force of nuclear-armed V- bombers—the Valiant, Victor and Vulcan—the Royal Air Force called for a high-altitude, long-range reconnaissance jet that could fly at a speed of at least Mach 2.5 (1,918 miles per hour).
More From The National Interest: Russia Has Missing Nuclear Weapons Sitting on the Ocean Floor How China Could Sink a U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier Where World War III Could Start This Year How the F-35 Stealth Fighter Almost Never Happened The U.S. Air Force first deployed the legendary SR-71 Blackbird in January 1966.
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