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Lockheed pushing optionally manned U-2

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posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 11:08 AM
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Lockheed has updated their optionally manned U-2 idea that they proposed to the Air Force in 2012. It would reduce the cost of the aircraft, while giving better performance than the Global Hawk. The U-2 carries a slightly larger payload, operating higher than the Global Hawk, but is limited to 12 hour missions by the pilots, who still report conditions similar to the bends after long missions.

Under the program to optionally man the aircraft, the wings would be extended by 10 feet each, but by replacing the center wing box, a tail redesign would not be necessary. The replacement would also add a full motion video system.


The fat lady has not necessarily sung on the fate of the U.S. Air Force’s high-flying U-2 intelligence aircraft.

Lockheed Martin has crafted a reduced-cost plan to “optionally man” its U-2, throwing a new possibility into the mix as Congress weighs whether to shift to an all-Northrop Grumman Global Hawk unmanned aircraft fleet for high-altitude reconnaissance. With an optionally manned U-2, advocates for the so-called Dragon Lady say the venerable aircraft finally can match the endurance offered by the RQ-4B Global Hawk. Convincing lawmakers and the Pentagon likely will be an uphill battle, though.

The Office of the Secretary of Defense finally opted after more than a decade of waffling to commit to a U-2 retirement path in its fiscal 2015 budget request, carving a path for an all-Global Hawk fleet. But U-2 advocates are continuing to argue that its attributes—including a 5,000-lb. payload—are superior to those of the Global Hawk, a high-flying unmanned aircraft capable of lofting 3,000 lb. of sensors. The U-2 operates at 70,000 ft. while the Global Hawk is limited to 60,000 ft., reducing its slant angle—or sensor range—for targets. It also lacks defensive systems that the U-2 carries.

aviationweek.com...




posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 11:24 AM
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a reply to: Zaphod58


Under the program to optionally man the aircraft, the wings would be extended by 10 feet each,

So the plane gets heavier, too? if they are replacing the pilot they are losing weight but I guess they need more lift if they increases the instruments and fuel load?

!0 feet each. The U2 already needs training wheels to keep the wings from scraping during takeoff.

Image



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 11:25 AM
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Its amazing that aircraft is still in service. I'm guessing it has been updated a bit over the years.

My dad knew Gary Powers. I wonder if it is the same basic aircraft that he flew? And if the U-2 is still flying, why would they retire the SR-71?



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 11:36 AM
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a reply to: tinner07

The last of them was built in 1989. They've been updated quite a bit since the early days. Fuselage extensions, new electronics, new engines, updated cockpits, etc.
edit on 11/30/2014 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 11:37 AM
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a reply to: intrptr

Composite materials would keep the weight the same, or actually cause it to lose a little weight. Replace the center wing box with a composite box, and composite wing and at worst the weight would be slightly more than it is now, but it would probably be about the same as it is now.



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 11:41 AM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

This makes a lot of sense. The newer airframe U2's still has a lot of life left in them. Why not pull the limiting factor for their mission duration out and make them more capable than the RQ-4 for less money.
We'll see if Congress will think the same thing with the DoD wanting to focus on high survivable platforms and funds already devoted to the RQ-4.

BTW, 140ft wingspan in the original concept? Wow, that bigger than a 757.



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 12:56 PM
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a reply to: tinner07

SR-71 was really expensive to maintain, it loses fuel during take off and needs to be refuelled in the air pretty quickly. The plane is leaking with the start because it expands by heat and needs room to do that.



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 01:12 PM
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a reply to: BornAgainAlien

The SR-71 also lost all its tooling to build replacements, so parts and pieces became an issue over time as well. The U-2s were built new up until almost 1990.



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 02:30 PM
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a reply to: intrptr

I read somewhere, perhaps here, about two weeks ago that the U-2 was difficult to fly and and a difference of seven miles per hour in cruising speed could cause its wings to flutter and it would stall. Now, they want to stick even more goodies into it and accommodate another human body? Evidently, that old war bird is getting more upgrades than we are told. --Exactly what we would expect of course. Maybe just a way to sneak an entirely different craft into the fray or use the money mostly on other black projects? Conspiracy freak here? You betcha!



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 03:09 PM
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a reply to: Aliensun

It's fifteen knots, so about 20 mph actually, and they want to REMOVE the pilot, not stick another in it. There is a two seat aircraft or two flying around, but this would give them them ability to remove the pilot completely and fly it as a UAV.



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 04:50 PM
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a reply to: Aliensun


Maybe just a way to sneak an entirely different craft into the fray or use the money mostly on other black projects? Conspiracy freak here? You betcha!

Refurbed U2s instead of new stuff likely means there are budget constraints, but I love watching the U2's take off from the local airfield. When they take off they lift off, set on their tails and climb straight up until they are out of sight.



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 08:32 PM
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That's pretty cool, would be one heck of a load off for the pilot in every part of the flight.

I`m not to familiar with current specs but did engineers ever get some sort of power assist or fly by wire system for the flight controls? If so I imagine things get mighty boring up there flying on the verge of a stall at top speed.



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 08:33 PM
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a reply to: StratosFear

Oh god no. Under certain portions of the flight they have to put as much as 75 pounds of pressure on the stick to keep the plane flying. It's all sheer strength, even for the new updated birds.



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 08:45 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58Exactly, if any plane were to need flight assist this one seems like it needs it the most. Why did they never install one to help the pilot out?



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 08:50 PM
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a reply to: StratosFear

Weight and space. Hydraulics are heavy, and at that altitude would freeze. Same with fly by wire, once you add all the computers in.



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 09:34 PM
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originally posted by: Zaphod58
a reply to: StratosFear

Weight and space. Hydraulics are heavy, and at that altitude would freeze. Same with fly by wire, once you add all the computers in.


I had thought that while typing out that previous response but wasn`t sure. Lockheed must have made them light and able to withstand the cold because the unmanned U-2 will have to have something to muscle around the flaps and rudder without a pilot.



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 09:39 PM
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a reply to: StratosFear

Actuators that only work in unmanned mode. They have to be switched off to fly with a pilot on board. It will add some weight to it, but if they go to composites, that will help balance it, as well as the longer wing to generate more lift.



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 10:01 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

Don't think it's only the Hawk they're trying to hedge....

www.uasvision.com...



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 10:05 PM
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a reply to: aholic

The U-2 doesn't really fit the mission of the -180 though. It beats the Global Hawk, for altitude, which lets it see farther than the Global Hawk. The -180 can just fly over the target area.



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 11:25 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

You mean the U2 or the 180 beats the GH for altitude because supposedly IIRC the 180 flies just as high [or higher] with a slightly more powerful engine. And apparently the 180 has been testing towards air refuel. 100 hours endurance. Don't see why not.



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