I heard some good news - unofficially - and wrote this story for Aviation International News, where I am the Defense Editor: http://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/defense/2017-03-20/reprieve-likely-u-2-dragon-lady Nothing is confirmed until the full President's Budget for defense in Fiscal Year 2018 is published in a few weeks' time. That budget will also include (as usual), a forecast for spending … Continue reading REPRIEVE LIKELY FOR U-2 DRAGON LADY
This week’s tragic accident at Beale AFB should not be allowed to influence the debate, about whether the U-2 should remain in service. That debate continues, and will come to a head in the spring of next year, after the DoD’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget request is published. As things stand, the Dragon Lady fleet … Continue reading U-2 CRASH SHOULD NOT INFLUENCE RETIREMENT DEBATE
Next Friday 6th May, the 5th Reconnaissance Squadron will celebrate its 40th Anniversary, with a crew chief competition and an open house. The Blackcat squadron keeps three U-2s at Osan airbase in Korea, from where one of them takes off most days to monitor the reclusive but aggressive North Korean regime, and other situations in … Continue reading 40 YEARS OF THE BLACK CAT SQUADRON (v2)
I was pleased to visit the U-2 Branch within the C2ISR Division at Robins AFB, GA recently. It is from here that the Air Force sustains the Dragon Lady, thanks to some 70 people who write the contracts, manage the spare parts, and support new developments in the program. Most of them are government or … Continue reading MANAGING THE U-2 AT ROBINS AFB
The Global Hawk is still under-performing, and formal testing of the extensive improvements that have been ordered, won’t take place until Fiscal Year 2018. This information comes from the 2015 annual report by the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), Michael Gilmore. He notes that the multi-year upgrade and modernization program for the … Continue reading GLOBAL HAWK: $3.5 BILLION OF IMPROVEMENTS AWAITED
U-2 pilots are a select breed. It’s a volunteer assignment, and to be accepted, candidates must pass two weeks of interviews at the 9th Recon Wing, Beale AFB, and fly three times in a U-2ST trainer commanded by one of the instructor pilots of the 1st Recon Squadron. I describe what it’s like to become … Continue reading WHO WILL BE U-2 PILOT NUMBER 1,000 ?
This has been a big year for U-2 history. The 60th anniversary of the first flight was celebrated in three well-attended reunions, and the aircraft was featured in the Hollywood movie “Bridge of Spies”, which is now on general release. I’ve just seen Stephen Spielberg’s version of how American lawyer James Donovan secured the release … Continue reading THE U-2 – HOBBLED BY HISTORY?