U-2 RETIREMENT – HERE WE GO AGAIN!

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!

CLOUDS, CODES AND AI ON “THE PERFECT PLATFORM”

“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”

ARCTIC DRAGONS MAKE FAIRFORD THEIR HOME

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

INNOVATION IN THE U-2 COCKPIT

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

THE U-2 HAS PIONEERED AIRBORNE NETWORKING

One of the hottest topics in the US military today is networking for battle management. Work to connect sensors, systems, shooters and decision-makers across the armed forces, in real time, is accelerating. They now call it Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2). But the U-2 has been at the forefront of this effort for more … Continue reading THE U-2 HAS PIONEERED AIRBORNE NETWORKING

IN THE FY2021 BUDGET, THE U-2 SURVIVES, GLOBAL HAWK CHOPPED

The Dragon Lady has survived yet another defense budget review. Although its future was examined as the Pentagon crafted the FY2021 request, the program survived intact. Instead, all 20 of the Global Hawk Block 30s that serve alongside the U-2 at Beale, are to be dumped. Ten Block 40 versions of the UAV based at … Continue reading IN THE FY2021 BUDGET, THE U-2 SURVIVES, GLOBAL HAWK CHOPPED

THE U-2, THE GLOBAL HAWK, AND PENETRATING ISR

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

COULD THE U-2 BE REPLACED BY SATELLITES?

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?