U2 Flies Again!

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by StarShip2100, Mar 26, 2010.

  1. StarShip2100

    StarShip2100 Futurist

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    AP
    A US Air Force U-2R high altitude surveillance aircraft takes off from forward-deployed location supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

    The U2 spy aircraft, famed for high-altitude Cold War espionage missions over the Soviet Union, is enjoying a new lease of life in Afghanistan as the best spotter of Taliban roadside bombs in the allies’ arsenal.

    Four years ago, the Pentagon wanted to retire the aircraft, which took its first test flight more than half a century ago. Since being fitted with new sensors and communications equipment, however, it has become an indispensable eye-in-the-sky for NATO forces.

    From its 70,000-foot cruising altitude, the U2's high-resolution camera is capable of spotting slight changes in the country’s dry mud paths where Taliban forces often bury improvised explosive device.

    U.S. military officials said that in the lead-up to the recent operation to seize Marjah in central Helmand from the Taliban, a U2 — nicknamed Dragon Lady because of its long wingspan — spotted almost 150 suspected bombs dug into roads and at planned helicopter landing sites around the town.

    Its success in this new role is a remarkable transformation in the fortunes of the U2. It was designed in secrecy and began flying spy missions in 1956. In April 1960, a U2 piloted by Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union and, during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, the aircraft uncovered Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba.


    Although it has been used in every major conflict involving the U.S. since the 1960s, the Pentagon believed that it had outlived its usefulness and wanted it replaced — until Congress saved it from military obsolescence.
     
  2. Batesmotel

    Batesmotel

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    Anyone have an idea on how many hours are on those airframes? That bird has outperformed anything the designers could have imagined.
     

  3. proguncali

    proguncali 1911-2004 CLM

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    Search youtube for "U-2 Dragon Lady: Landings"

    Didn't post the link as it has cursing in the song.

    CRAZY landings!!!
     
  4. jdavionic

    jdavionic NRA Member

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    Got news for you...it's been flying long before Afghanistan and Iraq.
     
  5. Batesmotel

    Batesmotel

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    Wow. I had no clue it was so hard to land.
     
  6. exmdshooter

    exmdshooter WWJMBD?

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    Yup - it has pogo wheels that keep the wings level (and off the ground) on takeoff, but these drop off once airborne and it's a bear to keep the wingtips off the tarmac on landing.

    Not a pilot (U2 or otherwise) but a longtime fan of the airplane. It was an incredible "bleeding edge" design in its day, and nothing could come close to its max operational altitude. When we were overflying the USSR, the Russians would, of course, scramble fighters to try and intercept... often so many that they would interfere with photographing the target... which earned them the name "Aluminum Undercast."

    The aircraft also has an incredible glide ratio. Sometimes, to extend range, the pilots would climb to altitude, then shut off the engine and glide... once they had descended a couple 10's of thousand feet they'd light back up and repeat the procedure. One rumor is that this is what permitted the Soviets to tag Gary Powers with a SAM... if he'd stayed at altitude he might have been ok.

    Still a cool piece of machinery.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2010
  7. longhair

    longhair

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    It was my understanding that Powers experienced a "flame out". Also understood that this was a common problem due to high altitude, low oxygen ignition. Only solution was to drop altitude to a more favorable oxygen level in order to refire engines. Sometimes the engines didn't cooperate.
     
  8. Ahmid

    Ahmid CLM

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    I am glad to see them flying again. It was a total surprise to me.
     
  9. faawrenchbndr

    faawrenchbndr CLM

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    I've seen 34k+ flying hours
     
  10. exmdshooter

    exmdshooter WWJMBD?

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    The practice of intentionally shutting down the engine and gliding in order to extend range was frowned upon. So if you had done this, and it resulted in getting shot down, a much better "story" to tell would be that your engine flamed out, and you had no choice but to descend and attampt a restart.

    Not saying that's what happened, just that both explanations are plausible.
     
  11. Jon_R

    Jon_R

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    The U2 is cool and we got our moneys worth from it but it is no where near as sexy as the SR-71. They are both about as cool as an unarmed war plane can get.
     
  12. gwalchmai

    gwalchmai Lucky Member

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    At one point didn't they use an El Camino chase car to parallel the U2 on landing and support one of the wings?
     
  13. whitetiger7653

    whitetiger7653 NRA Life Member

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    I'll stick to planes where all the parts stay attached.
    :rofl: