- The tech billionaire Elon Musk and his partner, Grimes, a musician, named their newborn baby in part after the A-12 spy plane built for the CIA during the Cold War.
- Musk said the baby boy’s name is X Æ A-12, and Grimes said on Twitter that the A-12 is representative of the predecessor to her and Musk’s favorite aircraft, the SR-71 Blackbird.
- The A-12, which could fly at Mach 3 at 90,000 feet, was operational for only a few years before it was retired and replaced by the famous SR-71.
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Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s partner, Grimes, a pop singer, has given birth to a baby boy, and the child’s name is unconventional to say the least. The couple named their son in part after a CIA spy plane.
Musk said on Twitter they gave the newborn the name X Æ A-12, a moniker as confusing to pronounce as it is difficult to decipher. Fortunately, Grimes explained the unusual name in a tweet.
—꧁ ༒ Gℜiꪔ⃕es ༒꧂ 🍓🐉🎀 小仙女 (@Grimezsz) May 6, 2020
Musk replied to Grimes’ tweet and clarified that their favorite aircraft is the SR-71 Blackbird, the predecessor of which was the CIA’s short-lived A-12 spy plane.
In the mid-1950s, the CIA began looking at a successor to the U-2 spy plane because it desired a difficult-to-detect aircraft that could fly at incredible speeds at high altitudes.
The reconnaissance plane also needed to be able to skirt missiles and interceptors.
The A-12 was the 12th in a series of designs under the code name Archangel developed by the aviation-engineering legend Clarence “Kelly” Johnson and Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works that ultimately won a CIA contract for Project Oxcart in 1959.
America’s first “stealth” aircraft was declared fully operational in 1965, according to the CIA. It could fly at sustained speeds in excess of 2,200 mph (Mach 3) at 90,000 feet, an unofficial record that technically remains unbroken for piloted jet aircraft.
The aircraft’s first and only reconnaissance operation took place between May 1967 and May 1968, during which time it flew 29 missions over East Asia as part of operation Black Shield, carrying out surveillance of military activities in Vietnam.
The A-12, which was designed during the height of the Cold War, never conducted operations over the Soviet Union or its satellite states as initially intended.
The A-12 was ultimately replaced by the Air Force’s two-seat SR-71 Blackbird, an aircraft designed by Lockheed that built on many of the engineering breakthroughs of its predecessor.
While the A-12 documented a speed of 2,208 mph at 90,000 feet in 1965, the SR-71 holds the official speed record for a piloted operational jet aircraft.
The latter set the record in 1976 with a speed of 2,193. It also set the official altitude record at 85,069 feet, according to the CIA.
As it was deemed unnecessary to maintain separate fleets of similar aircraft, the A-12 was retired in 1968 at the direction of the president. The SR-71 Blackbird was deactivated in the late 1980s and terminated in the late 1990s.