The United States Department of Defense public portfolio has an image of a mysterious SR-71 Blackbird-Looking Tow Target.
In the image it can be seen that the Air Force personnel working on an elongated black drone-like aircraft that is reminiscent in shape of the SR-71 Blackbird, but far smaller, appearing to be about a dozen feet in length.
The image has the caption “Technicians conduct a bench test on a diagnostic tow target.”
The image was shot in 1980 at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, which is well known for its testing mission and its proximity to the absolutely huge Sandia National Labs complex.
The craft appears to have forward-canted ram-air turbine blades on the cones of its nacelle-like bulges on either side of its very small wing area.
It also has two outward canted fins on each structure. Its nose is also interesting, appearing somewhat slab-sided, with it attached to the forward fuselage, which appears to be rounded.
The craft’s rear structure ends in an abrupt, flat-like manner. It isn’t exactly clear how this aircraft would be towed, either.
The Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird” is a long-range, high-altitude, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft that was operated by the United States Air Force.
It was developed as a black project from the Lockheed A-12 reconnaissance aircraft in the 1960s by Lockheed and its Skunk Works division.
American aerospace engineer Clarence “Kelly” Johnson was responsible for many of the design’s innovative concepts.