HomeAbout UsFact SheetsDisplay

U-2S/TU-2S

FILE PHOTO -- An Air Force U-2 Dragon Lady flies a training mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Rose Reynolds)

FILE PHOTO -- An Air Force U-2 Dragon Lady flies a training mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Rose Reynolds)

FILE PHOTO -- The U-2 provides continuous 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 conflict, including peacetime indications and warnings, crises, low-intensity conflict and large-scale hostilities.The U-2 is a single-seat, single-engine, high-altitude, reconnaissance aircraft. Long, wide, straight wings give the U-2 glider-like characteristics. It can carry a variety of sensors and cameras, is an extremely reliable reconnaissance aircraft, and enjoys a high mission completion rate. Because of its high altitude mission, the pilot must wear a full pressure suit. The U-2 is capable of collecting multi-sensor photo, electro-optic, infrared and radar imagery, as well as performing other types of reconnaissance functions. (Air Force photo)

FILE PHOTO -- The U-2 provides continuous 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 conflict, including peacetime indications and warnings, crises, low-intensity conflict and large-scale hostilities.The U-2 is a single-seat, single-engine, high-altitude, reconnaissance aircraft. Long, wide, straight wings give the U-2 glider-like characteristics. It can carry a variety of sensors and cameras, is an extremely reliable reconnaissance aircraft, and enjoys a high mission completion rate. Because of its high altitude mission, the pilot must wear a full pressure suit. The U-2 is capable of collecting multi-sensor photo, electro-optic, infrared and radar imagery, as well as performing other types of reconnaissance functions. (Air Force photo)

Mission
The U-2 provides high-altitude, all-weather surveillance and reconnaissance, day or night, in direct support of U.S. and allied forces. It delivers critical imagery and signals intelligence to decision makers throughout all phases of conflict, including peacetime indications and warnings, low-intensity conflict, and large-scale hostilities.

Features
The U-2S is a single-seat, single-engine, high-altitude/near space reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft providing signals, imagery, and electronic measurements and signature intelligence, or MASINT. Long and narrow wings give the U-2 glider-like characteristics and allow it to quickly lift heavy sensor payloads to unmatched altitudes, keeping them there for extended periods of time. The U-2 is capable of gathering a variety of imagery, including multi-spectral electro-optic, infrared, and synthetic aperture radar products which can be stored or sent to ground exploitation centers. In addition, it also supports high-resolution, broad-area synoptic coverage provided by the optical bar camera producing traditional film products which are developed and analyzed after landing.

The U-2 also carries a signals intelligence payload. All intelligence products except for wet film can be transmitted in near real-time anywhere in the world via air-to-ground or air-to-satellite data links, rapidly providing critical information to combatant commanders. MASINT provides indications of recent activity in areas of interest and reveals efforts to conceal the placement or true nature of man-made objects.

Routinely flown at altitudes over 70,000 feet, the U-2 pilot must wear a full pressure suit similar to those worn by astronauts. The low-altitude handling characteristics of the aircraft and bicycle-type landing gear require precise control inputs during landing; forward visibility is also limited due to the extended aircraft nose and "taildragger" configuration. A second U-2 pilot normally "chases" each landing in a high-performance vehicle, assisting the pilot by providing radio inputs for altitude and runway alignment. These characteristics combine to earn the U-2 a widely accepted title as the most difficult aircraft in the world to fly.

The U-2 is powered by a lightweight , fuel efficient General Electric F118-101 engine, which negates the need for air refueling on long duration missions. The U-2S Block 10 electrical system upgrade replaced legacy wiring with advanced fiber-optic technology and lowered the overall electronic noise signature to provide a quieter platform for the newest generation of sensors.

The aircraft has the following sensor packages: electro-optical infrared camera, optical bar camera, advanced synthetic aperture radar, signals intelligence, and network-centric communication.

A U-2 Reliability and Maintainability Program provided a complete redesign of the cockpit with digital color multifunction displays and up-front avionics controls to replace the 1960s-vintage round dial gauges which were no longer supportable.

Background
Built in complete secrecy by Kelly Johnson and the Lockheed Skunk Works, the original U-2A first flew in August 1955. Early flights over the Soviet Union in the late 1950s provided the president and other U.S. decision makers with key intelligence on Soviet military capability. In October 1962, the U-2 photographed the buildup of Soviet offensive nuclear missiles in Cuba, touching off the Cuban Missile Crisis. In more recent times, the U-2 has provided intelligence during operations in Korea, the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq. When requested, the U-2 also provides peacetime reconnaissance in support of disaster relief from floods, earthquakes, and forest fires as well as search and rescue operations.

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 structurally identical to the U-2R. The last U-2 and TR-1 aircraft were delivered in October 1989; in 1992 all TR-1s and U-2s were designated as U-2Rs. Since 1994, $1.7 billion has been invested to modernize the U-2 airframe and sensors. These upgrades also included the transition to the GE F118-101 engine which resulted in the re-designation of all Air Force U-2 aircraft to the U-2S.

U-2s are home based at the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, Beale Air Force Base, California, but are rotated to operational detachments worldwide. U-2 pilots are trained at Beale using five two-seat aircraft designated as TU-2S before deploying for operational missions.

General characteristics
Primary function: high-altitude reconnaissance
Contractor: Lockheed Martin Aeronautics  
Power plant: one General Electric F118-101 engine
Thrust: 17,000 pounds
Wingspan: 105 feet (32 meters)
Length: 63 feet (19.2 meters)
Height: 16 feet (4.8 meters)
Weight: 16,000 pounds
Maximum takeoff weight: 40,000 pounds (18,000 kilograms)  
Fuel capacity: 2,950 gallons
Payload: 5,000 pounds
Speed: 410 mph
Range: more than 7,000 miles (6,090 nautical miles)
Ceiling: above 70,000 feet (21,212+ meters)
Crew: one (two in trainer models)
Unit cost: classified
Initial operating capability: 1956
Inventory: active force, 33 (5 two-seat trainers and two ER-2s operated by NASA); Reserve, 0; ANG, 0

(Current as of September 2015)

Point of Contact
Air Combat Command, Public Affairs Office; 115 Thompson St., Suite 210; Langley AFB, VA 23665-1987; DSN 574-5007 or 757-764-5007; e-mail: accpa.operations@us.af.mil

Engage

Twitter
RT @USAFReserve: Reserve Citizen Airman takes the fight to #COVID19 - https://t.co/IM7WSbM0Bz (Story by the @307BombWing) #ReserveReady #Re
Twitter
Airmen assigned to the 62nd Airlift Wing @JBLM_PAO participate during a #JointForce exercise that also included a s… https://t.co/lWfcCDtlPV
Twitter
.@WeaponsSchool trains tactical experts and leaders to control and exploit air, space and cyber on behalf of the… https://t.co/Qy4RBNWGbe
Twitter
HVAC Airmen from the 355th Civil Engineer Squadron @DMAFB work year round to ensure DM Airmen are working at optima… https://t.co/SH4KBhqknQ
Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: .@NCAirGuard Airman 1st Class Collins Ampong and @NCNationalGuard Spc. Flack work together to sort and process medical eq…
Twitter
Kymeta Government Solutions has developed a flat panel, electronically steered antenna w/no moving parts providing… https://t.co/Se2rd4X0d8
Twitter
The 31st Fighter Wing conducted the first Elephant Walk in Aviano Air Base history consisting of 31 F-16s, 2 HH-60… https://t.co/gSU2kCX9R7
Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: Into the Wild Blue Yonder✈️ 146th Maintenance Group Airmen & 115th Airlift Squadron aircrew collaborated to accomplish l…
Twitter
Staff Sgt. Damion Carbajal provides an inside look at the training and day-to-day life of a Flight Engineer. 📹 Vid… https://t.co/JKsDRlCT8B
Twitter
A 301st Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter flies over a beach shore as a storm begins to form over… https://t.co/z6Pix9XZok
Twitter
The Airmen @DMAFB train w/ @USMC to enhance their #JointForce readiness capabilities, day & night. 📹 U.S. Air For… https://t.co/KHbrH1vSu7
Twitter
The Dental clinic at Ellsworth AFB teamed up with the Maintenance Group to come up with innovative solutions to imp… https://t.co/NXB4G29Kns
Twitter
RT @Join_AFReserve: The start of a new era! https://t.co/mZjL4egK2u … The first KC-46A Pegasus, the new #aircraft replacing the KC-135 St…
Twitter
RT @DeptofDefense: Firefighters with @usairforce 307th Civil Engineer Squadron extinguish a fire during training at Barksdale Air Force Bas…
Twitter
Welcome home! The 71st Rescue Squadron returned from their deployment, to reuniting with friends and family at Mood… https://t.co/wsHquOQ2HO
Twitter
An Airman stationed @LukeAFB checks in & welcomes a new Airman to the base. This is a standard procedure in the mil… https://t.co/Yb4zAxFdgF
Twitter
RT @USAFReserve: 446th medical professionals return home from #COVID19 relief efforts in #NYC - https://t.co/AEt1x7oJCB (Story by the @446A
Twitter
Amn 1st Class Jennifer Hutz, Ellsworth AFB Emergency Actions Controller, calls Philadelphia, Pennsylvania home. 📹… https://t.co/pBfuS5IL2s
Twitter
RT @Creech_AFB: It’s been an honor to welcome @GenDaveGoldfein back to the Home of the Hunters! Stay tuned for more & the words he imparte…
Twitter
#HappyFathersDay 🌼 to all the dads out there! https://t.co/XEjofQn46h
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,242,138
Follow Us