The USAF’s draft budget for Fiscal Year 2021 is grinding its way through the Pentagon, and will emerge into the public domain next spring. Once again, the U-2’s future is under scrutiny, despite a previous decision to keep the Dragon Lady in service until at least the mid-2020s. Perhaps that is inevitable, given that the … Continue reading THE U-2, THE GLOBAL HAWK, AND PENETRATING ISR
An article that I wrote recently for Aviation International News (AIN), where I was formerly the defense editor, touches upon the above question. The story is primarily about the forthcoming demise of JSTARS, but some of my discussion is relevant to the U-2: https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/defense/2019-06-15/does-jstars-demise-spell-end-airborne-isr However, the inherent flexibility of the Dragon Lady should keep it … Continue reading COULD THE U-2 BE REPLACED BY SATELLITES?
I’m sure that the U-2 community is carefully evaluating the shooting down of a Global Hawk UAV over the Straits of Hormuz by Iran on 20th June. Are there lessons to be learned? Is the U-2 equally vulnerable? A radar tracking map released by the Iranians shows the Global Hawk flying at 57,000 feet when … Continue reading GLOBAL HAWK SHOOTDOWN: COULD A U-2 MEET THE SAME FATE?
The latest US Air Force budget request aims to keep the U-2 equipped with state-of-the-art sensors, data links and other systems. The service plans to spend more than half a billion dollars on Dragon Lady developments over the next five Fiscal Years (FY2020-2024). When installed, some of them result in a redesignation from U-2S Block … Continue reading IMPROVING THE U-2 – CONTINUED FUNDING FORESEEN
If you have read DRAGON LADY TODAY, you will already know that NASA flies two U-2s from Palmdale that are specially configured for science missions. Designated ER-2 (ER = Earth Resources), these aircraft were delivered in 1981 and 1989 and, like the rest of the U-2 fleet, were re-engined with the GE F118 engine in … Continue reading NEW COCKPIT FOR NASA U-2s
I am often asked that question, usually by someone to whom I have just explained that the Dragon Lady remains the world’s premier reconnaissance aircraft, and was not retired years ago! The answer is currently 31, comprising 25 single-seat U-2S models that can fly operational missions; four dual-cockpit TU-2S trainers; and two ER-2 versions that … Continue reading HOW MANY U-2s ARE STILL FLYING?
The 9th RW has flown another journalist: Michael Phillips of The Wall Street Journal. There is a very good video of his experience on the WSJ website: https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-u-2-spy-plane-still-flying-combat-missions-60-years-after-debut-1528382700 Equally interesting, Phillips was told about a new project to use artificial intelligence to help interpret the imagery from the U-2’s Optical Bar Camera (OBC). On pages … Continue reading MAKING INTELLIGENT USE OF FILM