weather reconnaissance aircraft

Article 341 was the original U-2 prototype, and it never received a USAF serial. When the Strategic Air Command (SAC) was disbanded in 1992, the wing was transferred to the new Air Combat Command (ACC) and redesignated the 9th Reconnaissance Wing (9 RW). It will use the same F118-101 turbofan and generator as the U-2, but thrust could increase to 19,000 pounds (8,600 kg) and power increased to 65–75 kVA; service ceiling would increase to 77,000 ft (23,000 m) with a second engine. In 1966, elements of the USAF's 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing flew U-2s from Albrook to perform atmospheric sampling as the French detonated a nuclear device in the South Pacific. [133] The U-2 outlasted its Mach 3 replacement, the SR-71, which was retired in 1998. This aircraft had a service ceiling of 54,000 feet and numerous encounters between the U-2 and RCAF 'ZULU' alert flights have been recorded for posterity. Stephen Dorril, "MI6, Inside The Secret World of Her Majesty's Secret Intelligence Service" (New York: Free Press, 2000), pp. He and others believed that Soviet radar, which used American equipment provided during the war, could not track aircraft above 65,000 feet (19,800 m). RB-57E (Patricia Lynn Project) B-57Es modified to all-weather reconnaissance aircraft, used in "Patricia Lynn" missions during the Vietnam War; six converted. Dulles further told Eisenhower, according to presidential aide Andrew Goodpaster, that in any aircraft loss the pilot would almost certainly not survive. With such assurances and the growing demand for accurate intelligence regarding the alleged "bomber gap" between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, in June 1956 Eisenhower approved 10 days of overflights.[72][38]. [2], The best intelligence the American government had on facilities deep inside the Soviet Union were German Luftwaffe photographs taken during the war of territory west of the Ural Mountains, so overflights to take aerial photographs of the Soviet Union would be necessary. In the wake of the Gary Powers incident, the Taiwanese program of China overflights was redesignated TACKLE, a subset of the new IDEALIST program. It was flown by. While not coming to a consensus, the myth was found to be "plausible", due to, among other things, extremely bad field of vision when landing, which required a chase car to follow the plane upon landing, to give the pilot a set of eyes on the ground. [126][127], In 1969, the larger U-2Rs were flown from the carrier America. A committee of Army, Navy, USAF, CIA, NSA, and State Department representatives created lists of priority targets for U-2 and other intelligence-gathering methods. British U-2 overflights were made in December and February 1960. The first one targeted a large segment of the railways in the Tyuratam test range area as ballistic missiles were expected to be deployed close to rail lines, as well as nuclear complexes and missile test sites. He and Perkin–Elmer's Dr. Roderic M. Scott did so by using the Hycon K-38 with a 24 inches (610 mm) lens, and modifying it to specifications for the expected altitude of the plane and using new anti-vibration and mounting techniques. In May 1957, Eisenhower again authorized overflights over certain important Soviet missile and atomic facilities. Powers survived the near miss and was quickly captured; the crash did not destroy the U-2 and the Soviets were able to identify much of the equipment. [76] Knutson recalled that the "constant stream of Russian fighters" trying to shoot down the U-2 during overflights was sometimes "so thick" that they interfered with photographs. Despite the loss of designated weather ships, weather observations from ships continue from a fleet of voluntary merchant vessels in routine commercial operation, which have increased in number over the decades. By 16 August, the prototype flew at 52,000 feet (15,800 m), an altitude never before reached in sustained flight; by 8 September, it reached 65,000 feet (19,800 m). The successful launch of Sputnik 1 on 4 October 1957 gave credence to Soviet claims about the progress of its intercontinental ballistic missile program, and began the Sputnik crisis in the United States. [27] Plans for a U-2 replacement would not conflict with development of the SR-72, another project by the company to create a hypersonic unmanned surveillance plane, as it would be suited for missions that require greater speed for time-sensitive targets. Officials at Lockheed Aircraft Corporation heard about the project and decided to submit an unsolicited proposal. [95] Francis Gary Powers, the most experienced pilot with 27 missions, was chosen for the flight. When in 1960 the CIA realized that a pill breaking inside the cockpit would kill the pilot, it destroyed the L-pills, and as a replacement its Technical Services Division developed a needle poisoned with a powerful shellfish toxin and hidden in a silver dollar. [77], On 10 July, the Soviets protested what they described as overflights by a USAF "twin-engine medium bomber", apparently believing that it was a Canberra. 13 April 1943: Assigned to Flight Control Command. [45] For most of the time on a typical mission the U-2 was flying less than five knots (6 mph; 9 km/h) above stall speed. ", "Omega Tau Podcast Episode 109 – Flying the U-2 Dragon Lady", "Lockheed Skunk Works designing next-gen U-2 spy plane", "Will Lockheed build a stealthy U-2 successor? "; Baker instead used a 180-inch (460 cm) f/13.85 lens in a 13 in × 13 in (33 cm × 33 cm) format for his final design. [93][94], Eisenhower authorized one more overflight, which was to be made no later than 1 May because the important Paris Summit of the Big Four Conference would begin on 16 May. [7], Prior to shuttle launches or landings, pilots fly aircraft that provide cloud, wind, turbulence, visibility, and precipitation information. As it approaches the runway, the cushion of air provided by the high-lift wings in ground effect is so pronounced that the U-2 will not land unless the wings are fully stalled. The first was on 15 May 1956, when the pilot stalled the aircraft during a post-takeoff maneuver that was intended to drop off the wingtip outrigger wheels. The myth tested was that the U-2 was the most difficult plane to fly. [102] The British direct involvement in overflights ended after the May 1960 U-2 downing incident; although four pilots remained stationed in California until 1974, the CIA's official history of the program stated that "RAF pilots never again conducted another overflight in an Agency U-2. Pilots continued to have difficulty during landing, due to the ground effect holding the aircraft off the runway for long distances. Other aircraft have been used to investigate hurricanes, including an instrumented Lockheed U-2 that was flown in Hurricane Ginny during the 1963 Atlantic hurricane season. [citation needed], The CIA sought to determine if the U-2 could, from a fixed base at North Edwards, rapidly deploy to an advanced American base and complete reconnaissance flights on a largely self-sustaining basis. The U-2G was used only twice operationally. ", "JP-8+100LT: A low cost replacement of JPTS as the primary fuel for the U-2 aircraft? [153], In late 2014, Lockheed Martin proposed an unmanned U-2 version with greater payload capability,[154] but the concept did not gain traction with the USAF. [15], Civilian officials including Trevor Gardner, an aide to Secretary of the Air Force Harold E. Talbott, were more positive about the CL-282 because of its higher potential altitude and smaller radar cross-section, and recommended the design to the Central Intelligence Agency's Office of Scientific Intelligence. The U-2R, first flown in 1967, is significantly larger and more capable than the original aircraft. 21 August 1942: Activated and assigned to Headquarters Army Air Forces Directorate of Weather, which further assigned it to 2d Weather Squadron (Regional Control). The U-2S and TU-2S variants incorporated the more powerful General Electric F118 turbofan engine. [150] The RQ-4 Block 30's capabilities were planned to match the U-2's by FY 2016, the replacement effort is motivated by decreases in the RQ-4's cost per flying hour. ", "HASC markup limits Air Force options on A-10, U-2. The U.S. Air Research and Development Command mandated design changes that made the aircraft more durable for combat, but the resulting RB-57D aircraft of 1955 could only reach 64,000 feet (19,500 m). Its maximum takeoff weight would be greater than either the U-2's or RQ-4's at around 54,000 lb (24,000 kg), with a 5,000-pound (2,300 kg) payload and 130-foot (40 m) wingspan. It … Hickman's U-2 flew across Cuba, ran out of fuel and crashed in Bolivia. The U.S. released some of the photographs to the British government. Pedlow and Welzenbach 1992, pp. The company asked Clarence "Kelly" Johnson to come up with such a design. [106], As many as 15 U-2 sorties provided support for the April 1960 Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba by the United States. To maintain their operational ceiling of 70,000 feet (21,000 m), the early U-2A and U-2C models had to fly very near their never-exceed speed (VNE). [84], Soviet overflights resumed in June 1957 from Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska to the Russian Far East, which had less effective radar systems. Richard M. Bissel, the CIA official in charge of both the U-2 program and CIA covert operations, including the Bay of Pigs Invasion, had been a good friend of Land and Killian, but such use of the U-2s strained their friendship. [citation needed], CIA overflights of Asian targets began in spring 1958, when Detachment C moved from Japan to Naval Air Station Cubi Point in the Philippines to overfly Indonesia during an uprising against Sukarno's "Guided Democracy" government. Frank C. Brody, Richard A. Lafosse, Dan G. Bellue, Timothy D. Oram (1997). [178][176] On 29 July 1974, the two remaining U-2R aircraft in ROC possession were flown from Taoyuan Air Base in Taiwan to Edwards AFB, California, US, and turned over to the USAF. The exercise was completed with excellent results, and actual reconnaissance missions began to be scheduled immediately. [144], In March 2011, it was projected that the fleet of 32 U-2s would be operated until 2015. and Sydney J. Freedberg, ed. ", "With U-2 safe, operators vie for greater investment", "Budget Elicits Confusion Over Fate of U-2", "NASA assists in efforts to contain California wildfires", "50th Anniversary Night Forced Landing in Cortez, CO (Slideshow/video in both Chinese and English). In May 1956, Turkey approved the deployment of Detachment B at Incirlik Air Base, near Adana, Turkey. ", "The Israeli Air Force : Mysterious Spyplane Revealed", "U.S. It flies directly into the hurricane, typically penetrating the hurricane's eye several times per mission at altitudes between 500 feet (150 m) and 10,000 feet (3,000 m). As the crisis grew in seriousness, the project converted from a source of strategic reconnaissance, which prioritized high quality over speed (the film was processed by its maker, then analyzed in Washington), to a tactical reconnaissance unit that provided immediate analysis. Operations over Afghanistan included more real time activities, such as communication with ground troops, increasing their bodies' oxygen requirements and the risk of nitrogen bubble formation. Six-thousand-foot (1,800 m) reels of film made from ESTAR Base (PET) were used. ", "AFA 2015: Lockheed Martin pitches TR-X to replace U-2. The Lockheed U-2, nicknamed "Dragon Lady", is an American single-jet engine, high altitude reconnaissance aircraft operated by the United States Air Force (USAF) and previously flown by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). [20], Realizing the plane could not be tested and flown out of Burbank Airport, they selected what would become Area 51, which was acquired and a paved runway constructed for the project. [88] In April 1958, CIA source Pyotr Semyonovich Popov told his handler George Kisevalter that a senior KGB official had boasted of having "full technical details" of the U-2, leading Bissell to conclude the project had a leak. 59, 74–76. ", "Operation Fish Hawk – Secret CIA mission – U-2 reconnaissance flight – 1964 French nuclear test on Mururoa Atoll", https://theaviationist.com/2015/06/28/u-2-carrier-operations-story/, "NASA aircraft sets new world altitude record. [176] The squadron flew some 220 missions,[177] with about half over mainland China, resulting in five aircraft shot down, with three fatalities and two pilots captured; one aircraft lost while performing an operational mission off the Chinese coast, with the pilot killed; and another seven aircraft lost in training with six pilots killed. The United States also had to move swiftly to protect its allies: for example after the Soviets announced that Powers was alive, the CIA evacuated the British pilots from Detachment B as Turkey did not know of their presence in the country. These three digit numbers were factory assigned. $1.77 billion will have to be spent over 10 years to enhance the RQ-4, including $500 million on a universal payload adapter to attach one U-2 sensor onto the RQ-4. Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era, American single-jet-engine, ultra-high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft, Initial overflights of Communist territory. [65] There were other non-fatal incidents, including at least one that resulted in the loss of the aircraft. Test pilot Tony LeVier trained other Lockheed pilots to fly the U-2. [28], The company released a notional artist's impression of the TR-X aircraft at an Air Force Association conference in Washington on 14 September 2015. To protect the wings during landing, each wingtip has a titanium skid. However, with the overwhelming threats from SA-2 missiles and MiG-21 interceptors, along with the rapprochement between the U.S. and the PRC, the ROC U-2s stopped entering Chinese airspace, only conducting electronic intelligence-gathering and photo-reconnaissance missions using new Long Range Oblique Reconnaissance (LOROP) cameras on the U-2R from above international waters. No need to register, buy now! The American intelligence community was divided, with the CIA suspecting technical delays but the USAF believing that the SS-6 was ready for deployment. [29][30][31], Lockheed Martin revealed more specifications about the TR-X concept at a 15 March 2016 media day, confirming the aircraft would be unmanned and air refuelable. The CIA told the panel about the CL-282, and the aspects of its design that the USAF saw as flaws (the single-engine and light load factor) appealed to Donovan, a sailplane enthusiast who believed that a sailplane was the type of high-altitude aircraft the panel was seeking. Disclosed details say the design is essentially an improved U-2 airframe with the same engine, service ceiling, sensors, and cockpit, with the main differences being an optional manning capability (something Lockheed has proposed for the U-2 to USAF several times, but has never gained traction) and low-observable characteristics. [157] In 2015, the RQ-4 was planned to replace the U-2 by 2019, though Lockheed states the U-2 can remain viable until 2050. [109], SAC received permission to fly as many Cuban overflights as necessary for the duration of the resulting Cuban Missile Crisis. The CIA's standards for selection were higher than the USAF's once the latter began its own U-2 flights; although more candidates were rejected, the CIA's program had a much lower accident rate. The new camera had a resolution of 2.5 feet (76 cm) from an altitude of 60,000 feet (18,000 m). Before artificial satellites were used to find storms, the the 53rd along with other hurricane searching units flew routine weather … U-2s have taken part in post-Cold War conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and supported several multinational NATO operations. The U-2's large wingspan slowed its descent during crashes, often leaving its remains salvageable; Lockheed was able to rebuild the wreckage from the incident into a flyable airframe, but that it could do so should have been evidence to the CIA that its cover story might not be viable after a crash in hostile territory. [38] By this time the CIA had also concluded internally that Soviet SAMs had "a high probability of successful intercept at 70,000 feet (21,300 m) providing that detection is made in sufficient time to alert the site". The rear wheels are coupled to the rudder to provide steering during taxiing. Although Dulles remained reluctant to have the CIA conduct its own overflights, Land and James Killian of MIT told President Eisenhower about the aircraft; Eisenhower agreed that the CIA should be the operator. The TR-X is meant to be "survivable, not unnoticeable", operating outside of enemy air defense bubbles rather than penetrating into them. It flies directly into the hurricane, typically penetrating the hurricane's eye several times per mission at altitudes between 500 feet (150 m) and 10,000 feet (3,000 m). The Air Force commissioned the Beacon Hill Report from Project Lincoln at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which was researched in 1951-1952 and delivered in 1952. This was a mistake because, as an important Soviet holiday, there was much less air traffic than usual. But instead of being under normal USAF control, the project was known as Project Razor,[167][168] and was run directly by the CIA with USAF assistance. Pedlow and Welzenbach 1992, pp. [103], On 4 January 1961, the CIA U-2 reconnaissance effort, which was formerly known as CHALICE, was redesignated IDEALIST. The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, a component of the 403rd Wing located at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss., is a one-of-a-kind organization. Pedlow and Welzenbach 1992, pp. [37], The design that gives the U-2 its remarkable performance also makes it a difficult aircraft to fly. [158] In February 2020, the U.S. Air Force submitted budget documents with confusing language suggesting that it could begin retiring U-2s in 2025, but clarified afterwards that no retirement is planned. "U.S. Air Force to Kill Global Hawk UAV.". The. [24], Due to the small landing gear, a perfect balance in the fuel tanks was essential for a safe landing. The 53rd WRS currently operates the Lockheed WC-130J aircraft as its weather data collection platform. U.S. ) as much as touted durations and more cockpit activity on 16 March 1968 ran out fuel! Would limit pilot duties to maintaining flight path for camera photography easier alternative involving additives to used. Lockheed Corporation originally proposed it in 1953, it was approved in 1954, the British flights ' contributed. 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weather reconnaissance aircraft 2021