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Air Force Looks into operating U2 until the year 2100.

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posted on Mar, 24 2018 @ 04:15 AM
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The U.S. Air Force is exploring whether it could keep flying its U-2 Dragon Lady high-altitude reconnaissance airplanes for the rest of the century, a service official said March 15. A “structural study” is looking at whether the Air Force could fully use the U-2’s estimated lifespan of 75,000 flight hours, “which would take them out to 2100,” said Susan Thornton, the Air Force’s director for information dominance programs. “So pretty far out there.”

The Air Force, which has been flying the Lockheed Martin [LMT]-built plane for decades, already plans to keep it in service until 2055. That durability is due in large part to extensive depot maintenance that rebuilds each aircraft every seven years, Thornton testified before the House Armed Services Committee’s tactical air and land forces panel. The study marks a dramatic reversal of fortune for the U-2, which the Air Force once intended to begin retiring in fiscal year 2019. The service scrapped those retirement plans after lawmakers objected, citing strong demand for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets. The U-2 collects several forms of intelligence, including imagery and signals.

Besides the study, the Air Force is pursuing other U-2 modernization efforts, including making the ejection seat safer and addressing “diminishing manufacturing sources” for the plane’s sensors, according to Thornton. Thornton said the Air Force expects to provide more details about its U-2 modernization plans in a “high-altitude annex” to its “Next Generation ISR Dominance Flight Plan,” scheduled for completion this spring (Defense Daily, Jan. 4). Also in her testimony, Thornton said the Air Force’s Air Operation Center (AOC) Pathfinder effort, begun in August 2017, is “going very well.”

The AOC Pathfinder is designed to field new software quickly by allowing airmen to provide feedback directly to developers throughout the life of the system. “By this time, we were expected to have delivered one capability, which was the critical capability for dynamic targeting,” Thornton told lawmakers. “In fact, we’ve delivered four capabilities to Al Udeid [Air Base in Doha, Qatar], so that’s been a great benefit to those users out there.” The Air Force canceled its previous modernization effort, AOC 10.2, due to cost overruns, schedule delays and performance problems (Defense Daily, July 13, 2017). Northrop Grumman [NOC] was the AOC 10.2 prime contractor. Commanders use the AOC Weapon System to plan, execute, monitor and assess air, space and cyberspace operations.

www.defensedaily.com...
Wow I’m amazed at this. The Air Force doesn’t have anything better then the old U2 at persistent surveillance? I know they were looking at replacing it with the global hawk, but that was shelved because there are some missions and sensors that the U2 can Do better and make better usage of. With the U2 being basically just a glider with a jet engine and constant upgrades and rebuilds, I could see them doing this, although not to the end of the century.
edit on 24-3-2018 by johnthejedi24 because: (no reason given)

edit on 24-3-2018 by johnthejedi24 because: (no reason given)




posted on Mar, 24 2018 @ 04:21 AM
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a reply to: johnthejedi24

No, they don't. The Global Hawk can stay on station longer, but until they finish installing the payload adapter, it's extremely limited in its sensors, and they can't be changed out. The U-2 has about half a dozen configurations, and requires about 12 hours to change between them.



posted on Mar, 24 2018 @ 06:21 AM
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a reply to: johnthejedi24

Costs too much to develop a new spy plane, so yah...



posted on Mar, 24 2018 @ 06:41 AM
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Didnt I say somewhere that the U2 was getting upgraded with a third sensor suit to extend its life and mission capabilities?



posted on Mar, 24 2018 @ 07:07 AM
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a reply to: johnthejedi24

Pardon my lack of understanding on the subject, but why would they retire such a badass plane as the SR-71, and keep flying the U2?



posted on Mar, 24 2018 @ 10:09 AM
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originally posted by: darkwingduck
a reply to: johnthejedi24

Pardon my lack of understanding on the subject, but why would they retire such a badass plane as the SR-71, and keep flying the U2?


Pentagon politics. The generals who were promoted from the SR-71 group had retired, and other generals from other groups wanted money spent on their direction; strategic bombers, UAV's. They accountants hadn't planned for the reactivation of the SR-71, so it got mothballed. Had it been funded by the three-letter-agencies, it would have survived. Some said that satellite systems could be used as a replacement.

en.wikipedia.org...

I wonder what they would be able to do today with modern materials and sensors; the aircraft used to leak fuel while on the runway.



posted on Mar, 24 2018 @ 10:12 AM
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originally posted by: intrptr
a reply to: johnthejedi24

Costs too much to develop a new spy plane, so yah...
After a 700 billion boost the military, BS.



posted on Mar, 24 2018 @ 10:21 AM
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a reply to: darkwingduck

The U-2 runs about $30,000 per flight hour, and can stay on station 8-10 hours (14 hour flights from takeoff to landing). The SR-71 ran $85,000 an hour to operate, and generally got one to two passes over a target area. That doesn't include support costs (the Blackbird required special fuel and tankers, the U-2 doesn't).



posted on Mar, 24 2018 @ 04:40 PM
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originally posted by: Arnie123

originally posted by: intrptr
a reply to: johnthejedi24

Costs too much to develop a new spy plane, so yah...
After a 700 billion boost the military, BS.


Every new design suffers billions in budget overuns, takes years, even decades to develop and refine.

Thats why they also holdover the Buff, Lancer, Warthog, Falcon, Patriot, Tomahawk, Apache, Blackhawk, Air craft carriers, etc.



posted on Mar, 24 2018 @ 06:07 PM
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It seem after reading the article that the RQ-180 is a urban legend, if not why keeping the U-2 a lot of decade more.



posted on Mar, 24 2018 @ 06:15 PM
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a reply to: darksidius

Why keep the B-52 after the B-1 and B-2 were built? Why keep the F-16 after the F-15E was built?



posted on Mar, 24 2018 @ 08:13 PM
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a reply to: intrptr

This wildly ignores the underlying politics that have happened for the last 25 years.

To be sure, there have been cases of badly run programs at times. Some were saved (JSF). Some were shot in the head (FCS). Some like the FCS should have never been started in the first place.

OTOH, the rest of the world is not immune from this problem either: The Su-57 is running behind schedule, too. The engine replacement is not working properly. The plane was supposed to go IOC last year. Not even close to that. Then there is the PAK-DA. How many people remember the LMFS?

As for China? The J-31 is obviously struggling, though that might be "purely" - as much as anything is in China's defense industry - a private venture. The J-20's final engine is STILL struggling: even the Chinese admit that. As for the rest? China built a copy of the Blackhawk for their own use! How many programs have the Chinese canned and we, the public, had no clue about? China is many things, but transparent is not one of them.

And India? Let's not talk India's procurements. They make the JSF and FCS look brilliantly well run in comparison.

Europe? Europe really, really wants to not study war no more. At least their politicians.

Who else is there?

To be sure, there is a lot to clean up in our procurement process. However, you are ignoring the politics and events of that last 25 years in your statement.



posted on Mar, 24 2018 @ 08:52 PM
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Wish i had one of them cameras.

Afraid of heights tho.


edit on 3 24 2018 by burgerbuddy because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 24 2018 @ 09:00 PM
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a reply to: burgerbuddy

Wait until Syers-2C images are released.



posted on Mar, 24 2018 @ 11:36 PM
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originally posted by: Zaphod58
a reply to: darksidius

Why keep the B-52 after the B-1 and B-2 were built? Why keep the F-16 after the F-15E was built?


It isn't the aircraft as much as the mission. The B-52 is fine for bombing third world nations.



posted on Mar, 24 2018 @ 11:39 PM
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a reply to: gariac

And the U-2 is just fine for the mission it does. That doesn't preclude the existence of other airframes to do similar missions.



posted on Mar, 24 2018 @ 11:47 PM
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a reply to: gariac

Or acting as an arsenal plane. Put the pewpews on them, and they might even be useful as a standoff strike asset again.



posted on Mar, 25 2018 @ 02:29 AM
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Why the U2 was initially replaced before the Sr71 was being built was due to Missile advancements in the Soviet Union at the time.U2 pilots were getting nailed over China which were giving the US government "twitches"..

U2 losses



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