“The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of ‘liberalism’ they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.”

Socialist Party presidential candidate Norman Thomas


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Do we need another U2 spy plane?


So the U2 spy plane was developed during the Cold War to snoop on the Ruskies from and altitude that surface-to-air missiles could not reach. Francis Gary Powers notwithstanding, the U2 has something like an 85% mission success rate. And it's still in service today. 

For some reason, Lockheed-Martin is being asked to design a replacement as the retirement date in 2019 for the U2, looms near. 

Why?

With satellites, why do we need manned space-craft zooming around the heavens taking pictures of our enemies? Can't unmanned drones to the same thing, and by orders of magnitude more cheaply? 

8 comments:

Bill said...

The USAF tried to retire the Dragon Lady and replace with Global Hawks, only to find they were losing too much capability. They big UAV just isn't there yet.

Satellite orbits are well known to our adversaries so they just cover up during passes. The U-2 is in such demand that it can't keep up. It doesn't fly over hostile territory, but flies high enough to look in.

Ed said...

I wonder if the likely prohibitive cost of a new platform would convince them to just keep building parts for U2 upgrades? Or do air frames have a limited life and at some point you just can't keep it in the air safely?

Bill said...

I haven't heard of the replacement plan, so can't comment. The current U-2 is vastly different from the 1960's version. I don't think the airframe is stressed much, but the AF may want better stealth.

Bill said...

http://aviationweek.com/defense/skunk-works-studies-stealthy-u-2-replacement?NL=AW-05&Issue=AW-05_20150819_AW-05_362&sfvc4enews=42&cl=article_1&utm_rid=CPEN1000000898758&utm_campaign=3516&utm_medium=email&elq2=974665b3e7bb4fa3a1a8c1b3a9952164

I missed this article. It is kind of a stealthier cross between a U-2 and Global Hawk.

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Bill said...

You've made the big time, Right Rant. You're getting spam posted as a comment.

Ed said...

Bill, I was just trying to figure out what that was. Is that what spam is? I'm used to trolls, don't know much about spam comments. Maybe they'll go away.

Bill said...

It may have another name. I've seen them infest other blogs. I suppose if someone clicks on one of their stupid links, they get $0.01, if that much.