IMPROVING THE U-2 – CONTINUED FUNDING FORESEEN

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

HOW MANY U-2s ARE STILL FLYING?

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?

MAKING INTELLIGENT USE OF FILM

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

THE SUN MAY NEVER SET ON THIS JET

Now that the U-2 is staying in service for the foreseeable future, many possibilities for making it even better are being explored. Some are now funded, some are still on wish-lists. But Lockheed Martin U-2 program manager Kyle Franklin (below) has every reason to be optimistic. He told me recently: “we’re a sunrise platform now” … Continue reading THE SUN MAY NEVER SET ON THIS JET

U-2 SQUADRON CONTINUES TO IMPROVISE

Improvisation has always been a tradition in the U-2 program. In the earliest days, it was the fixing of a piece of string above the cockpit transparency to give the pilot some indication of yaw, and the addition of that rear-view mirror so that he could monitor contrails. Later, it was the parcel delivery vans … Continue reading U-2 SQUADRON CONTINUES TO IMPROVISE