They all, President Truman, the Army, Air Force, Navy, and the Marine Corps feared the Central Intelligence Agency, yet the president tasked it with doing something that the Air Force would not do. That was to develop a manned overhead reconnaissance program to spy on Russia. Despite many technological and bureaucratic hurdles, the CIA, in eight months from contract to flying, develops the revolutionary U-2 spy plane. A few months later, the CIA is overflying the Communist Soviet Union to disprove the feared bomber and missile gap between the two superpowers.. The struggle between the CIA and the US Air Force to control the U-2 Angels, and the persistent tension between the CIA and Presidents Truman and Eisenhower extends to the A-12 Archangels intended to replace the U-2. Many lives are lost as the CIA sets up station at a remote site in Nevada known today as Area 51,
The shoot down of the U-2 over Russia in 1960, Russia’s moving into Cuba, and the war in Vietnam placed a heavy load on the Central Intelligence Agency to develop a spy plane unlike anything the world had ever seen before. The CIA reestablishes its station at Area 51 under the CIA’s new Directorate of Science and Technology where it develops America’s first stealth plane, the A-12 that still today holds the record of being the fastest and highest flying manned air-breathing aircraft ever built. From Area 51, CIA Director Helms deploys people and three planes to a CIA outpost in Kadena, Okinawa where the CIA operationally overflies North Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and North Korea before being replaced by the Air Force’s SR-71, the fourth member of the Blackbird family. The Area 51 CIA station was the genesis of the CIA’s Science and Technology Directorate that turns this secret venue in Nevada into the technology business that continues today.
In 1955, the Central Intelligence Agency founded the Area 51 station to develop the revolutionary high-flying U-2 reconnaissance plane that has flown operationally on a global scale ever since. In 1959, the Area 51 station initiated a successor to the U-2 Angel, the A-12 Archangel that was America’s first stealth plane and flew higher and faster than any plane ever. In the process, the CIA’s Science and Technology Directorate assembled a special projects team at Area 51 like no other in the world. When the Air Force assumed the agency’s aerial reconnaissance flight in 1968, the station had already prepared by setting its unique facilities at the Area 51 station into a business of continuing with stealth development and a new project needed by customers starting with the US Air Force and the Navy. The Area 51 station began the exploitation of the Soviet MiG planes that had mastered the aerial war in Vietnam. That was only the start of a highly classified technology laboratory and business that has expanded to levels one can only imagine today.
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