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The U2 Spy Plane provides continuous day and night, high-altitude, all-weather surveillance and reconnaissance 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 U2 Spy Plane is a single-seat, single-engine, high-altitude, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft. Long, narrow, straight wings give the U-2 glider-like characteristics and allow it to lift heavy sensor payloads to unmatched high altitudes quickly, and keep them there for a long time. The U2 Spy Plane is capable of collecting multi-sensor photo, electro-optic, infrared and radar imagery, as well as collecting signals intelligence data. It can down link all data, except wet film, in near real-time to anywhere in the world, providing war planners with the latest intelligence possible.
The U2 Spy Plane has one the highest mission completion rates in the U.S. Air Force despite the fact that the aircraft is the most difficult to fly due to its unusually challenging takeoff and landing characteristics. Due to its high-altitude mission, the pilot must wear a full pressure suit.
The U2 Spy Plane aircraft has a single General Electric F-118-101 engine that is fuel efficient and lightweight -- negating the need for air refueling on long duration missions. The fleet is undergoing an entire rewire effort to lower its overall electronic noise signature and allow a quieter platform for the newest generation of sensors. The sensors are also in a state of constant upgrades. The cockpit is being redesigned to replace the 1960s vintage round dial gauges with multifunction displays and complete "glass cockpit" technology.
Current U2 Spy Plane models are derived from the original version that made its first flight in August 1955. On Oct. 14, 1962, the U2 Spy Plane photographed the Soviet military installing offensive missiles in Cuba. It provided critical intelligence data during all phases of operations Desert Storm and Allied Force. The U-2 provides daily peacetime indications and warning intelligence collection from its current operating locations around the world.
When requested from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U2 Spy Plane has also provided peacetime reconnaissance data in support of disaster relief from floods, earthquakes and forest fires, and has been used as a search and rescue asset on several occasions
The U2 Spy Plane, first flown in 1967, was 40 percent larger and more capable than the original U2 Spy Plane 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 standoff 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 U2 Spy Plane and TR-1 aircraft were delivered to the Air Force in October 1989. In 1992 all TR-1s and U2 Spy Planes were designated U-2Rs. All U-2R models have since completed engine replacement and are designated as a U-2S/TU-2S.
U2 Spy Planes are based at the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, Beale Air Force Base, Calif., and support national and tactical collection requirements from various operational detachments located worldwide. U2 Spy Plane crewmembers are trained at Beale using four two-seat model aircraft (designated TU-2S).
The U-2 is a single-seat, single-engine, high-altitude, reconnaissance aircraft that first flew in August 1955. Long, wide, straight wings give it glider-like characteristics. It carries a variety of sensors and cameras. The newest version of the U-2, the U-2R, is equipped with a variety of sensors to provide continuous day or night, high-altitude, all-weather, stand-off surveillance of a battle area in direct support of U.S. and allied ground and air forces. In addition to high-altitude reconnaissance, the U-2 also performs air sampling flights and occasionally is used for search and rescue missions.
The U-2 made its first flight in August 1955. Since 1957, a series of U-2 flights have been conducted to sample radioactive debris in the stratosphere. On Oct. 14, 1962, it was a U-2 that photographed the Soviet military installing offensive missiles in Cuba. Numerous U-2 missions have been flown for USDA, the Army Corps of Engineers and state governments to determine damage from natural disasters. The U-2R, then known as the TR-1A, first flew in August 1981 and was delivered to the Air Force the next month. It was redesignated U-2R in 1992. U-2R crew members are trained at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., using two-seat trainer versions.