The Myasishchev M-17 "Mystic" (Ram-M) high-altitude aircraft is the Soviet equivalent of the U-2. This twin-boomed aircraft with a high aspect ratio wing was initially developed to shoot down US reconnaissance balloons drifting over the USSR in the mid-1950s. Subsequently it was modified as single-seat reconnaissance and research aircraft. The first two prototypes (Mystic-A) had a single turbojet engine, and were used for aerodynamic and atmospheric research. The subsequent M-55 (Mystic-B), also designated M-17R, was a twin-jet version built by the Molniya Scientific and Industrial Enterprise (which absorbed the Myasishchev Bureau). Cameras and other sensors are housed in a large compartment in the lower fuselage.
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