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Secret aircraft:

The U-2 spy plane provided day or night, high-altitude, all-weather, stand-off surveillance of an area in direct support of U.S. and allied ground and air forces. It provides critical intelligence to decision makers through all phases of the cold war, indications and warnings, crises, low-intensity conflict and large-scale hostilities. Basically, it was a light weight glider with a jet engine.

Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance aircraft:

First prototype

USAF's U-2 fact sheet:


The U-2 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 U-2S 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 U-2 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 photo imagery, in near real-time to anywhere in the world, providing war planners with the latest intelligence possible.

The U-2 has one of the highest mission completion rates in the U.S. Air Force despite the fact that the aircraft us 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 aircraft has a 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 models are derived from the original version that made its first flight in August 1955. On Oct. 14, 1962, the U-2 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 U-2 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 U-2R, first flown in 1967, was 40 percent larger and more capable than the original 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 U-2 and TR-1 aircraft were delivered to the Air Force in October 1989. In 1992 all TR-1s and U-2s were designated U-2Rs. All U-2R models have since completed engine replacement and are designated as a U-2S/TU-2S.

U-2s 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. U-2 crewmembers are trained at Beale using four two-seat model aircraft (designated TU-2S).

General Characteristics

Primary Function: High-altitude reconnaissance
Contractor: Lockheed Martin Aeronautics
Power Plant: One General Electric F-118-101 engine
Thrust: 17,000 pounds
Length: 63 feet (19.2 meters)
Height: 16 feet (4.8 meters)
Wingspan: 105 feet (32 meters)
Speed: 475+ miles per hour (Mach 0.58)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 40,000 pounds (18,000 kilograms)
Range: 7,000 miles (6,090+ nautical miles)
Ceiling: Above 70,000 feet (21,212+ meters)
Crew: One (two in trainer models)
Date Deployed: U-2, August 1955; U-2R, 1967; U-2S, October 1994
Cost: Classified
Inventory: Active force, 37 (4 two-seat trainers and two operated by NASA); Reserve, 0; ANG, 0

May 2002


See also:

CIA recently claimed, against its own archived evidence, that the U-2 spy plane "explains" 50% of the UFO observations in the years following its first flight. It is statistically wrong.

Other secret aircraft supposed to explain UFOs:

And also...

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This page was last updated on August 14, 2003