It was the first enlarged and upgraded U-2, back in 1967. And 68-10329 is still is service, with nearly 31,500 flying hours.
A reference to the “divestiture” of the U-2 in Fiscal Year 2026, that was contained in last year’s budget request, is missing from the Fiscal Year 2023 request that has just been published. The request envisages continued spending on Dragon Lady upgrades and supportability through Fiscal Year 2027. The Pentagon’s fiscal year begins in the … Continue reading LATEST USAF BUDGET – NO END IN SIGHT FOR THE U-2
Many surveillance aircraft have flown near or over Ukraine in recent weeks. You may have seen the maps of their tracks which have appeared on social media, thanks to Flight Radar 24, ADS-B Exchange, and other flight tracking websites. They have included US Air Force E-8 JSTARS, RC-135 Rivet Joints, and RQ-4 Global Hawks; US … Continue reading “INVISIBLE” U-2 PLAYS ITS PART IN UKRAINE SURVEILLANCE
US Air Force personnel assigned to The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) are now wearing a unit patch derived from a famous patch worn by U-2 pilots from the late 1950s through the early 1980s. The NGA employs some 14,500 people who exploit and analyze imagery and geospatial information for the US military, other government agencies, … Continue reading TOWARD THE UNKNOWN – A PATCH REVIVED
Another budget request, another plan to retire the U-2. But don’t count on it. In the small print of the USAF’s Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) presidential budget request, there is a statement that the Dragon Lady will be “divested” in Fiscal Year 2026. But there is a glaring omission. Unlike previous budget requests, there is … Continue reading U-2 RETIREMENT – HERE WE GO AGAIN!
“The U-2 is the perfect platform to drive cutting-edge military technology” said the 9th Wing commander Col Heather Fox. She was referring to recent pioneering U-2 flights that have explored how cloud computing can install innovative software into aircraft that are already airborne, enabling sensors and navigation systems to react quickly to fast-changing threats. The … Continue reading CLOUDS, CODES AND AI ON “THE PERFECT PLATFORM”
U-2 pilots rely on their pressure suits, which have been developed over many decades
Three very experienced former U-2 pilots have returned to fly again as instructors.
It is now one year since the 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron (ERS) began to move from Al Dhafra airbase in the UAE to RAF Fairford in the UK. Since last November, the squadron has been busy flying operational missions in an eastward direction. The usual sensor fit is the ASARS imaging radar plus the ASIP … Continue reading ARCTIC DRAGONS MAKE FAIRFORD THEIR HOME
The Dragon Lady was fitted with fixed modern cockpit displays 15-20 years ago, making piloting much easier on missions, including communication and navigation. But as the years passed, the cockpit upgrade increasingly lacked compliance with FAA/ICAO civil navigation procedures. Moreover, portable electronic devices flourished, and they were adapted for use by civilian aviators. Now, U-2 … Continue reading INNOVATION IN THE U-2 COCKPIT