U-2S: Unparalleled High Altitude Reconnaissance
The U-2S high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft continues to serve as America’s Sentinel of Peace. Current U-2s are equipped with the latest, most advanced signals intelligence (SIGINT), measurement and signature intelligence (MASINT) and imagery intelligence (IMINT) sensors in the Air Force inventory. The U-2 supports intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) requirements in all weather, day or night, with an ability to dynamically task sensors within seconds to collect on emergent, time-critical targets. A Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS) linked to the U-2 through various communications architectures plans target decks and processes collection for immediate action. Time-sensitive and highly perishable intelligence is provided to the National Command Authority and theater commanders to enhance situational awareness, identify geo-political warnings and indications, oversee the battlefield, and provide post-strike damage assessments.
While early models of the U-2 began service in the mid-1950s, production of today’s U-2S fleet was completed in the late 1980s. Each U-2S can carry a large, 5,000 pound payload of cameras, sensors and data links. At current utilization rates, it is capable of sustaining service through 2050 and beyond. Key investments over the last 15 years include:
- General Electric turbofan engine for increased efficiency and power
- Multiple data links including satellite communications
- Digital multi-functional display cockpit
- Seven-band multi-spectral digital cameras (SYERS-2)
- Enhanced radar sensors (ASARS-2)
- Enhanced SIGINT sensors
- New defensive system
The nation will continue to rely on the U-2 for dependable, accurate and time-sensitive ISR information for decades to come.