The U.S. Air Force has deployed U-2 Dragon Lady high-altitude, all-weather surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft to Royal Air Force Fairford, England.
The U-2 spy plane is one of the most legendary U.S. military aircraft born from Cold War necessity. The U-2 was designed in the 1950’s by Kelly Johnson played an integral role in America’s national defense, spying on opponents from as high as 70,000 feet.
Furthermore, U-2s have taken part in post–Cold War conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and supported several multinational NATO operations. The U-2 has also been used for electronic sensor research, satellite calibration, scientific research, and communications purposes.
The Dragon Lady is one of a handful of aircraft types to have served the USAF for over 50 years, such as the Boeing B-52 and Boeing KC-135. The newest models (TR-1, U-2R, U-2S) entered service in the 1980s, and the latest model, the U-2S, had a technical upgrade in 2012.
The mission of the U-2 is to provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities in order to meet combatant commander objectives.
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 deployment of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets to the European theater demonstrates U.S. commitment to our allies and partners in the region.