U-2S Dragon Lady
Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
Also Known As: Block 10 U-2, Block 20 U-2, ER-2, TR-1A, TR-1B, U-2A, U-2B, U-2C, U-2D, U-2R and U-2RT
Origin: United States of America
Parent System: U-2
Initial Operational Capability (IOC): 1955
Total Production: 105
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Description: The U-2S provides continuous day and night, high altitude, all weather, surveillance of an area in support of US forces. It provides intelligence to decision makers through all phases of conflict, including peacetime indications and warnings, crises, operations other than war and major theater war. The U-2S Dragon Lady is a single seat, single engine, reliable, high altitude reconnaissance aircraft. Due to high altitude flight the pilot must wear a full pressure suit. It carries a variety of sensors such as film photo, Synthetic Aperture Radar, or Electro-Optical devices and features a high mission success rate. The information collected during its mission can be relayed to control stations via line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight (via satellite) data-links.
The first U-2 model made its maiden flight in 1995. In 1962 an U-2 photographed the Soviet missiles being installed on Cuban territory. It provided critical intelligence data during operation Desert Storm in 1991, and Allied Force in 1999. Before operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 the U-2S were involved in reconnaissance flights over Iraq searching for potential weapons of mass destruction sites.
In the late 1990s despite Global Hawk ISR UAV availability, the US Air Force was upgrading the U-2S Dragon Lady to extend its service life through 2020. The modernization program was expected to be completed by 2007. Following QDR 2006 the US Air Force plans for the U-2 aircraft were to complete its retirement by fiscal year 2011. Due to year 2012 US Air Defense budget cuts the U-2S retirement date was delayed to 2040. In February 2014, the Pentagon due to budget cuts decided to put an end to the U-2 program.
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