The U-2 Remains a Significant Player


Probably no aircraft show the durability of the air platform more than the B-52 or the U-2. Today’s critics of air power would argue that such “cold war” platforms are not relevant to today’s world. These two platforms and many others have evolved significantly over the years and have proven to be stellar investments in global operations. This a point that today’s critics might take into consideration when considering investments for the next thirty years.

Here a U-2 Dragon Lady from the 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron takes off for a mission, Jan. 23, from a non-disclosed location in Southwest Asia. The 99th ERS, part of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, supports Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom and the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.

According to its Air Force fact sheet, the U-2 is a single-seat, single-engine, high-altitude/near space reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft providing signals, imagery and electronic measurements and signature intelligence. The plane, which flies up to altitudes of 70,000 feet, is also capable of gathering a variety of imagery, including multi-spectral electro-optic, infrared, and synthetic aperture radar products which can be stored or sent to ground exploitation centers. In addition, it also supports high-resolution, broad-area synoptic coverage provided by the optical bar camera producing traditional film products, which are developed and analyzed after landing.

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***Posted February 14th, 2010