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A reconnaissance aircraft is a manned or unmanned military aircraft designed, or adapted, to carry out aerial reconnaissance. Their roles are to collect imagery intelligence, signals intelligence, and measurement.
Aerial reconnaissance was mostly carried out by versions of standard fighters and bombers equipped with cameras.2 After World War II and during the Cold War, when the United States developed several dedicated reconnaissance designs, including the U-2 and the SR-71 to deal with the nuclear threat from the Soviet Union.3
Today much of the strategic role has passed over to satellites,4 and the tactical role to unmanned aerial vehicles. This was proven by the successful use by Israel and by the Desert Storm operation by the United States.5
- "A Tale of Two Airplanes" by Kingdon R. "King" Hawes, Lt Col, USAF (Ret.)
- They Brave Death for a Picture: desperate chances taken by the flying camera-men, Popular Science monthly, January 1919, page 18-19, Scanned by Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=HykDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA18
- "Army-Lockheed YO-3A Silent Airplane in Vietnam"