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A-12 Oxcart | by The Central Intelligence Agency
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A-12 Oxcart

CIA developed the highly secret A-12 OXCART as the U-2’s successor, intended to meet the nation’s need for a very fast, very high-flying reconnaissance aircraft that could avoid Soviet air defenses. CIA awarded the OXCART contract to Lockheed (builder of the U-2) in 1959. In 1965, after hundreds of hours flown at high personal risk by the elite team of CIA and Lockheed pilots, the A 12 was declared fully operational, attaining the design specifications of a sustained speed of Mach 3.2 at 90,000 feet altitude. The A-12 on display at CIA Headquarters—number eight in production of the 15 A-12s built—was the first of the operational fleet to be certified for Mach 3. No piloted operational jet aircraft has ever flown faster or higher. To learn more about the CIA, visit

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Taken on March 8, 2011