A U-2 Dragon Lady, a high altitude reconnaissance aircraft operated by the United States Air Force currently deployed to Royal Air Force (RAF) station in Gloucestershire, England as part of the 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron.
The U-2 aircraft, assigned to the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, Beale Air Force Base, Calif., is one of the most legendary U.S. military aircraft born from Cold War necessity.
Nicknamed the Dragon Lady, the U-2 is one of the longest serving aircraft in the U.S. Air Force. Like the B-52 bomber, the U-2 first took the skies for the U.S. military in the 1950s. This unique aircraft played an integral role in America’s national defense, spying on opponents from as high as 70,000 feet.
According to the U.S. Air Force, the U-2 carries an “electro-optical infrared camera, optical bar camera, advanced synthetic aperture radar, signals intelligence and network-centric communication” for reconnaissance flights.
In Europe, the aircraft supplements a variety of missions that enhance regional and global security support in support of U.S. and NATO allies and regional partners.
“The U.S. Air Force is engaged, postured and ready with credible force to assure, deter and defend in an increasingly complex security environment,” the Air Force said in a statement.
The U.S. Air Force in partnerships with Collins Aerospace Systems, a unit of United Technologies, and Lockheed Martin Skunk Works recently completed flight testing and deployment of the latest variant of the Collins Aerospace Senior Year Electro-Optical Reconnaissance System (SYERS) sensor, SYERS-2C, on the U-2. With this milestone, the entire U-2 fleet has been upgraded to the premier electro-optical/infrared sensor capability which provides increased optical performance and highly accurate long-range tracking for superior threat detection in a wider range of weather conditions.