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10/20/2017 1:01:18 AM
9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 8/4/2005 7:18:42 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/4/2005 8:06:08 PM EDT by KA3B]
Link Posted: 8/4/2005 7:39:27 PM EDT
fifty years ago today, we were two days from dropping the bomb on hiroshima.
Link Posted: 8/4/2005 7:44:24 PM EDT

Originally Posted By FordGuy:
fifty years ago today, we were two days from dropping the bomb on hiroshima.

60 years
Link Posted: 8/4/2005 7:45:41 PM EDT
Think "Skunk Works".....
Link Posted: 8/4/2005 7:46:14 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/4/2005 7:48:52 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Snorkel_Bob:

Originally Posted By FordGuy:
fifty years ago today, we were two days from dropping the bomb on hiroshima.

60 years

woops - you are right - fifty years ago today we were celebrating the 10 year anniversary.....
Link Posted: 8/4/2005 7:55:26 PM EDT

Originally Posted By FordGuy:

Originally Posted By Snorkel_Bob:

Originally Posted By FordGuy:
Fifty years ago today, we were two days from dropping the bomb on Hiroshima.

60 years

woops - you are right - fifty years ago today we were celebrating the 10 year anniversary.....

50 years ago Brooklyn was about to celebrate its only win over the Yankees in the World Series.

How many more days to October guys?
Link Posted: 8/4/2005 7:59:11 PM EDT

Originally Posted By KA3B:
Think "Skunk Works".....


Link Posted: 8/4/2005 8:01:47 PM EDT
U2? B52?
Link Posted: 8/4/2005 8:02:31 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/4/2005 8:04:24 PM EDT
U-2 or F-104!
Link Posted: 8/4/2005 8:05:41 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/4/2005 8:06:53 PM EDT by KA3B]
The U-2 Spy Plane turns 50 - and still in service
(link to this article)

Page: 1 2 3

August 3, 2005 Fifty years ago this week the famous high altitude (70,000 ft, 21,000 m plus) U-2 spy plane made its first flight – since that time it has been one of the most consistent providers of critical intelligence information to the United States in peacetime and all phases of conflict. Developed with a reportedly unlimited budget supplied by the CIA, the plane was developed in record time by Lockheed Martin and in operation for four years providing continuous day and night, high-altitude, all-weather surveillance before the famous incident where US pilot Gary Powers was shot down over a Russian nuclear missile base in 1960 and tried as a spy.

The U-2 is now 40% larger than it was in 1955 due to the plethora of electronic eyes and ears it carries, but it is still immensely useful in wartime having provided 88% of battle field imagery during the Iraq invasion.

The U-2 was responsible for identifying the threat of Cuban-based ballistic missiles that became the Cuban missile crisis and took the world closer to nuclear war than any other point in history. All of the imagery used in identifying the build-up of missiles came from the U-2. The U-2 has been the backbone of US airborne intelligence collection operations for FIVE DECADES and is expected to continue in the role for at least another decade.

Though the U-2 is slow, it’s extreme height makes it very difficult to shoot down – in fifty years of flying only seven U-2s have ever been shot down: one over the Soviet Union flown by Francis Gary Powers, five over China, and one over Cuba during the Cuban missile crisis.

Because of the hazardous physiological regime of high altitude flying (U-2s typically fly higher than 60,000 feet -- twice as high as a commercial airliner), pilots need to wear an astronaut-like flight suit and must breathe pure oxygen for an hour prior to take off to reduce the amount of nitrogen in their blood stream. The U-2 was expected to be superceded by the SR-71 Blackbird long-range, strategic reconnaissance aircraft in 1964 but the Blackbird was retired in 1990 and the U-2 is still flying. Just the same, the Blackbird was an incredible aircraft and whilst in service was the world's fastest and highest-flying operational aircraft. In 1976, an SR-71 set a world speed record of 2,193.167 mph (3,529.56 km/h) and an aircraft altitude record of 85,068.997 feet (25,929 m).

The aircraft completed an upgrade to the General Electric F-118-101 engine in 1998, primarily to increase maintainibility by replacing the aging J-75 (Pratt & Whitney) engine that had first been developed in the '50s. Significant side benefits of the newer GE engine was better fuel economy, reduced weight and increased power. To increase longivity the GE engine was de-tuned to roughly match the output from the PW engine. Other upgrades to the sensors and the addition of the Global Positioning System increased collection capability and provides superimposed geo-coordinates directly on collected images.

In 2002 Lockheed Martin delivered the first U-2S reconnaissance aircraft equipped with state-of-the-art cockpit displays and controls to the 9th Reconnaissance Wing based at Beale Air Force Base, CA.

The U-2S Reconnaissance Avionics Maintainability Program (RAMP) upgraded the 1960s-vintage cockpit with newly installed equipment, including three 6x8 inch multifunction displays, an up-front control and display unit, and an independent secondary flight display system. The entire fleet of 29 U-2S models and five two-cockpit trainers will be modified before the project is completed in 2007. As a result of the upgrade, along with other sensor modifications, the U-2S will continue to provide leading-edge intelligence collection capabilities for years to come.
Link Posted: 8/4/2005 8:08:07 PM EDT
By Martin Nesirky and Pascal Pinck

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea (Reuters) - As the matte-black U-2 spy plane approaches, a sports car surges on to the runway and gives chase.

Within seconds, the car is right behind the glider-winged, Pinocchio-nosed jet, which seems to fill the windshield as it edges toward the ground.

"Nice job," the driver intones over a handset, guiding the pilot down while steering the sleek blue car one-handed at up to 130 mph. "Welcome back."

It all sounds -- and feels -- like a one-off stunt for a big-budget action movie. Yet this chase is repeated many times a day at a handful of bases dotted strategically around the globe.

It is a vital and unique part of a routine that has kept one of the world's most hard-to-fly planes airborne near the edge of space for half a century to gather secret information for U.S. intelligence and the military.

"We are looking at something somewhere and helping somebody do their job or their mission in a very direct way," said Lt.-Col. Scott Johnson, commander of 5th Reconnaissance Squadron, known as the "BlackCats."

"It is hard to hide from us and that can be a very good thing, I think," Johnson, 42, from Louisville, Kentucky, told Reuters during a rare visit to the squadron's high-security compound inside Osan air base south of Seoul. "It keeps everybody honest."

Originally designed for the Central Intelligence Agency, it could not be called a reconnaissance plane given the high secrecy around it. The air force decided to call it a utility plane and since U-1 was already taken they named it U-2.

The U-2 first flew officially on Aug. 8, 1955, and was soon conducting top-secret Cold War missions over the Soviet Union to assess Moscow's missile advances.

On May 1, 1960, that cover was spectacularly blown.

The Soviet Union brought down a U-2 piloted by Gary Powers and put him on trial. Washington initially said it was a civilian weather reconnaissance flight off course but President Dwight Eisenhower later said it was a distasteful but vital necessity to avoid a Pearl Harbor-style surprise attack.

Powers was later freed in a spy swap in divided Berlin.


No one denies the U-2's existence these days, although much of its work remains highly secret.

Pilots with the BlackCats were frank about the dangers of handling such a delicate and outmoded aircraft. They were eloquent about flying so high they can see the curvature of the earth, thunderstorms like popcorn far below and the darkness of space above. But they were careful not to discuss their missions.

"The specific area of coverage of the U-2 is actually classified," said Maj. Brian "Bubba" Dickinson, who is 35 years old and comes from Oscoda, Michigan.

He and Johnson pointed to past missions such as the first and second Gulf Wars. A U-2 pilot died in a crash in the United Arab Emirates in June after a mission over Afghanistan.

The U-2 has probably been deployed to monitor every conflict involving the United States in some way in the past 50 years.

"I think there's little doubt that the U-2 continues to operate against targets like Iran and like North Korea," said John Pike, director of Globalsecurity.org, a defense policy thinktank. "It gives a persistent surveillance capability that drones and spy satellites simply don't provide."

North Korea -- which says it has nuclear weapons and is building more -- regularly accuses the United States of flying U-2s to peer at strategic targets on its territory from near the fortified Demilitarized Zone that bisects the Korean peninsula.

Wherever the U-2 is headed when it takes off, the pre-flight routine is identical and rigorous.

"It starts hours before I even show up for work," said Maj. Robert "Crash" Creedon, 41, from Newbury Park, California.

At Osan, civilian and military maintenance teams check the plane and its top-secret sensors inside one of the BlackCat hangars. Look carefully and you might also spot a real black mascot cat known as Oscar on the prowl.

Elsewhere, intelligence and operations officers brief the pilot, who then heads for medical checks with physiology specialists and crucial help putting on the $250,000 spacesuit that will keep him -- or her -- alive.

There are three women among about 80 U-2 pilots worldwide, including Maj. Merryl "Hubu" David, a 34-year-old former Navy helicopter pilot from the Bronx. The spacesuit deadens the senses and reduces mobility but pilots adapt.

"I don't find it that bad," said David. "I guess it's like putting yourself in a suit and putting yourself in a telephone booth for a couple of hours."

Pilots breathe pure oxygen in their suits for an hour before take-off and then throughout the mission to reduce nitrogen in the blood and so cut the risk of the bends.

Looking like an astronaut or cosmonaut heading to a rocket, the pilot then walks slowly to the plane for pre-flight checks.


Take-off is another carefully choreographed team effort. The wings are so long and full of fuel they droop at the ends and both are supported by unicycle-like "pogo" wheels that fall away as the plane leaves the ground.

The chase car roars along in its wake and a truck is not far behind to collect the pogos as the U-2 climbs out of sight.

"About the first hour of the sortie it's fairly task-intensive with setting up all of the sensors, completing all the checklists," said Dickinson.

Precisely how high the U-2 flies is classified but it is more than twice as high as a commercial plane.

"You see so much of the world," he said. "There is something about being up there by yourself that is truly rewarding."

Pilots have time to read or study intermittently for several hours while the plane is on auto-pilot but they are in regular contact with the ground and can switch course.

The final hour of the flight is probably the most demanding for the fatigued pilot. The plane has to land on one rear wheel and effectively glide to a halt. The pilot needs the car to count down as the runway cannot be seen over the plane's long nose.

The military says the U-2 remains vital even though it is older than any of its pilots and is difficult to handle.

"We're still doing what we're doing, and this is after 50 years," said David. "Even with our antiquated systems, we're still kicking butt."

Link Posted: 8/4/2005 8:12:33 PM EDT
A bitching plane if I do say so myself!
Link Posted: 8/4/2005 8:15:52 PM EDT
A slightly misleading title on my part...
Link Posted: 8/4/2005 8:16:31 PM EDT
And they still...haven't found...what they're looking for.

Link Posted: 8/4/2005 8:17:45 PM EDT
still getting it done too....

but I see the Global Hawk taking over in the next few years.
Link Posted: 8/4/2005 8:25:30 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Mauser101:
And they still...haven't found...what they're looking for.

Link Posted: 8/5/2005 8:37:39 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Snorkel_Bob:

Nope, 1964 and 1962, respectively.
Link Posted: 8/5/2005 8:39:32 AM EDT
Kelly Johnson > All
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