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Lockheed D-21

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M21 Pic2

The D-21 mounted on the back of the M-21.

The Lockheed D-21 was an American Mach 3+ reconnaissance drone. The D-21 was initially designed to be launched from the back of its M-21 carrier aircraft, a variant of the Lockheed A-12 aircraft.

An M-21 (specifically, a YF-12A Black Bird prototype) was used to transport a D-21 drone into Tselinoyarsk, during Operation Snake Eater in August 1964. The drone was used to insert Naked Snake into the area, due to heightened security. It was rigged to self-destruct when the enemy was near, although it was deliberately given U.S. markings to ensure that the Soviets knew of America's involvement, as part of negotiations with Nikita Khrushchev. Despite a successful landing, Snake felt that future designs of the D-21 pilot model should fix certain errors such as the landing buffer, as potential pilots could get killed using the drone in its current state.[1]

Ultimately, however, the project was cancelled in 1965 due to defense budget cuts made by then-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.

Behind the scenes

The M-21 was colored metallic silver in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, due to a decision made by Yoji Shinkawa and Mataan, although director Hideo Kojima himself preferred the black color.[2]


Notes and references

  1. ^ Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2004).
    This was mentioned in a radio conversation with Major Zero, and references the real-life termination of the project; a mid-air collision between the mother aircraft and the unmanned drone led to the death of the drone's launch operator.
  2. ^

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