Cold War: How it changed Aviation forever


The Post World War 2 era saw the clash of 2 giants defending their ideologies at respective ends: The United States of America (USA) and The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). There was a tremendous expenditure of assets which was carried out on both sides in order to develop new technologies, consolidate existing and build new allies, espionage, and research and development purposes. One such setor where R&D resulted in development of truly extraordinary pieces of technology which till date are considered as the ‘Van Gogh’ equivalent of the aviation sector. This piece of article will discuss about the Aircrafts which went into service for their respective countries and pretty much steered the course of the cold war.

Why the need for such heavy expenditure?

It is the process of encoding,manipulating and retrieving information at a molecular or macroscopic level. It represents the final stage for miniaturization of electronic circuitry.It has provided new methods for high speed communication and signal processing and neural architectures.The most advanced ideas in this field involves the use of molecules as single logic or memory units.Current work in molecular electronics involves molecular junction transport(switch and transistors).

The BlackBird

The 1960 U2 spy plane incident was a major embarrassment as well as a huge reconnaissance blunder by the United States ,as it was an open sign of Capitalist aggression by the west. This prompted it to develop an aircraft like never before: The SR71 Blackbird. Blackbird was actually part of a project under a contract with Lockheed Martin called the ‘A-12’. There were a few variants of the project like the original A-12 (CIA), YF-12 (USAF), M21 (CIA) for various purposes, but the most popular and widely build was the SR-71 (USAF) aka The Blackbird variant which was used for the longest period of time before retirement.

The variant names are followed by the operator names in parentheses. Except for the YF-12,which was built as an interceptor,the other variants were meant for reconnaissance missions.

Speciality of Blackbird:

Blackbird was one of a kind spy plane which could cruise at extraordinary speeds of Mach 3.2 for hours on. No other aircraft in history was and still is capable of that. Its engine was one of a kind, which could act as a normal afterburner at lower speeds,such as during takeoff and landing, but towards the top speed limits, it would act as a Turbo-Ramjet engine. This made it an ideal candidate for reconnaissance purposes, for which it was used in North Korea and Vietnam. It lacked the agility and maneuverability of a fighter jet, but what it possessed was raw speed. It used a special di-borane fuel and its body had to be designed from scratch by the scientists at Lockheed Martin. Its majority of body was made from Titanium, which could resist softening due to heat while flying at the edge of space. The funny part was that the Titanium required for the SR-71 was imported to the USA from the USSR via a series of shell companies.

No longer in service, the SR-71 is a fond aircraft to ponder upon now for the visitors at a handful of Aviation Museums throughout the USA.

Mikoyan Gurevich-25, MIG-25

Unlike the SR-71, MIG-25 was not build as a reconnaissance aircraft, but as an interceptor fighter aircraft, meaning it was built for defensive interceptions of oncoming enemy aircrafts

Biomolecular electronics

Biomolecular electronics is a subfield of molecular electronics that involves the use of native as well as modified biological molecules in the place of organic synthesized molecules.Biomolecular electronics deals with biomolecules which are able to transfer electrons between molecular partners as a result of redox reactions. These molecules may be redox metalloproteins, proteins with disulphide bonds and quinone based molecules.

Potential applications for Biomolecular electronics.

  • A single molecule biosensor for food borne bacteria
  • Electrical measurements of biomolecular interactions at a single molecular level
  • Measuring Ag-Ab interactions
  • Electrical cancer detection in liquid biopsies.


The discussion has outlined the advantages and disadvantages of implementing molecular electronics. If we ignore the commercial viability, the concept is justified based on the basic research done in this field. However, commercial viability remains as a question in many areas of proposed implementation.Molecular based holographics,nonlinear optical materials,LCD and microwave assemblies have proven to be the major accomplishments in this field. Only by giving enough time and effort can one expect a considerable level of success from molecular electronic device candidates.