|Last U-2R Goes to Depot For Re-Engining |
Last U-2R Goes to Depot For Re-Engining
By Staff Sgt. James Brabenec, 9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs, February 28, 1998.
Beale Air Force Base, Calif. (ACCNS) - BealeÂ’s last U-2R reconnaissance aircraft flew out recently to the Lockheed-Martin Skunk Works facility in Palmdale, Calif., where it will be upgraded to an S model.
The new U-2S model features an upgraded engine and provides better fuel economy and relieves some of the pilot workload, said Lt. Col. Mario Buda, 1st Reconnaissance Squadron commander.
Air Force photo of an U-2 flying over the Golden Gate Bridge
"The S model simplifies engine management for the pilot," said Buda. "While the R model required pilots to pay attention for an engine over-temperature concern, the S model has an on-board computer to manage the engine system."
While the airframe will remain essentially the same, the lighter engine provides the U-2 with up-to-date technology, and improved reliability and maintainability.
"The new computer-controlled engine reduces maintenance effort and aircraft downtime," said Master Sgt. James Cox, 99th Reconnaissance Squadron propulsion element chief.
The new engines are in the same "engine family" as those used in F-16s, F-117s and B-1s. U-2S aircraft share about 88 percent of its parts with the standard production engine making it much easier and cheaper to get replacement parts, said Fred Carmody, Lockheed Advanced Development Co. field operations manager.
The new engine and accessories are also about 1,300 pounds lighter than the previous version, allowing the U-2S to fly higher.
BealeÂ’s U-2 fleet began engine upgrades in 1994. The U-2R flew its last operational sortie from France early last year. The U-2R flew more then 30,000 operational missions.
Beale operates U-2s from four operating locations worldwide.
About the U-2 :
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. However, the aircraft can be a difficult aircraft to fly due to its unusual landing characteristics.