The U-2, a high-flying reconaissance aircraft, was camouflaged by
this inoccent 'utility' designation. Ironically, it has become the
most famous U-designated aircraft... The extremely high-flying U-2
spyplane became infamous in 1960 by being shot down over the Soviet
Union. After that, the U-2 was claimed to be restricted to
meteorological and environment control flights, but it continued to
spy above countries other than the USSR, such as China and Cuba.
Some were shot down. The WU-2 was used for sampling of the
stratosphere, and examining the fall-out from nuclear tests. Later
versions had a J75 engine. The U-2R is a much-modified version with
two large pods on the wing, built in the second and third production
runs --- the aircraft of the third series were named TR-1 for some
time. The latest U-2R models were still present during the 1991
Gulf War. Reengining with the lighter and more powerful G.E.
F118-GE-F29 engine is under way.
A classified budget document approved by the Pentagon on December 23, 2005, calls for the termination of the U-2 program by 2011, with some aircraft being retired as early as 2007. The U-2 would likely be supplanted by the Northrop Grumman's high-altitude Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle.
Engines: 1 * 7710kg P&W J57-P-13B
Max. Speed: 850km/h
Max. Range: 6640km
Engines: 1 * 7710kg P&W J75-P-13B
Wing Span: 31.39m
Wing Area: 92.90m2
Empty Weight: 7031kg
The U-2 provides continuous day or night, high-altitude, all-weather, stand-off surveillance of an area in direct support of U.S. and allied ground and air forces. It provides critical intelligence to decision makers through all phases of conflict, including peacetime indications and warnings, crises, low-intensity conflict and large-scale hostilities.
The U-2 is a single-seat, single-engine, high-altitude, reconnaissance aircraft. Long, wide, straight wings give the U-2 glider-like characteristics. It can carry a variety of sensors and cameras, is an extremely reliable reconnaissance aircraft, and enjoys a high mission completion rate.
Because of its high altitude mission, the pilot must wear a full pressure suit. The U-2 is capable of collecting multi-sensor photo, electro-optic, infrared and radar imagery, as well as performing other types of reconnaissance functions. However, the aircraft can be a difficult aircraft to fly due to its unusual landing characteristics.
The aircraft is being upgraded with a lighter engine (General Electric F-118-101) that burns less fuel, cuts weight and increases power. The entire fleet should be reengined by 1998. Other upgrades are to the sensors and adding the Global Positioning System that will superimpose geo-coordinates directly on collected images.
Current models are derived from the original version that made its first flight in August 1955. On Oct. 14, 1962, it was the U-2 that photographed the Soviet military installing offensive missiles in Cuba.
The U-2R, first flown in 1967, is significantly larger and more capable than the original aircraft. A tactical reconnaissance version, the TR-1A, first flew in August 1981 and was delivered to the Air Force the next month. Designed for stand-off tactical reconnaissance in Europe, the TR-1 was structurally identical to the U-2R. Operational TR-1A's were used by the 17th Reconnaissance Wing, Royal Air Force Station Alconbury, England, starting in February 1983. The last U-2 and TR-1 aircraft were delivered to the Air Force in October 1989. In 1992 all TR-1s and U-2s were redesignated U-2R. Current U-2R models are being reengined and will be designated as a U-2S/ST. The Air Force accepted the first U-2S in October, 1994.
U-2s are based at Beale Air Force Base, Calif. and support national and tactical requirements from four operational detachments located throughout the world. U-2R/U-2S crew members are trained at Beale using three U-2ST aircraft. The last R model trainer will be converted to an S model trainer in 1999.
Initially, Clarence "Kelly" Johnson adapted the F-104 Starfighter, replacing the low aspect ratio blade wings with extremely large glider type wings as a starting point. High aspect ratio wings give the U-2 some glider-like characteristics. The aircraft is extremely challenging to fly, not only due to its unusual landing characteristics, but also because of the extreme altitudes it can reach. When flying the U-2A and U-2C models (no longer in service) close to its operational ceiling, the maximum speed (critical mach) and the minimum speed (stall speed) approach the same number, presenting a narrow window of safe airspeed the pilot must maintain. In these models over 90% of a typical mission is flown within five knots (9 km/h) of stall speed.
The difficulty experienced by the pilots flying the U-2 led to it being called the "Dragonlady" because the aircraft was extremely unforgiving with respect to pilot ineptitude or incompetence.
|General Characteristics U-2|
|Primary Function:||high-altitude reconnaissance|
|Contractor:||Lockheed Aircraft Corp.|
|Power Plant:||One Pratt & Whitney J75-P-13B engine; one General Electric F-118-101 engine|
|Thrust:||17,000 pounds (7,650 kilograms)|
|Length:||63 feet (19.2 meters)|
|Height:||16 feet (4.8 meters)|
|Wingspan:||103 feet (30.9 meters)|
|Speed:||475+ miles per hour (Mach 0.58)|
|Maximum Takeoff Weight:||40,000 pounds (18,000 kilograms).|
|Range:||Beyond 7,000 miles (6,090 nautical miles)|
|Ceiling:||Above 70,000 feet (21,212 meters)|
|Crew:||One (two in trainer models)|
|Date Deployed:||U-2, August 1955; U-2R, 1967; U-2S, October 1994|
|Inventory:||Active force, 36 (4 trainers); Reserve, 0; ANG, 0|