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, at least in part, after a CIA spy plane.
The name they gave the newborn is X A-12, a name decidedly as confusing to pronounce as it is difficult to decipher its meaning. Fortunately, the boy’s mother broke down the name in a tweet.
Musk replied to Grimes’ tweet, clarifying 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, desiring 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 twelfth in a series of designs under the code name “Archangel” developed by aviation engineering legend Clarence “Kelly” Johnson and Lockheed’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-seated SR-71 Blackbird, an aircraft designed by Lockheed that built on many of the engineering breakthroughs of its predecessor.