SENIOR YEAR / AQUATONE / U-2 / TR-1
The U-2 sensor suite has evolved, with the synthetic aperture radar enhanced to provide better imagery and ground target tracking features. The electro-optical payload is being made more reliable and is receiving a multispectral detection capability. The Air Force has fielded new electronic countermeasures on the aircraft, giving it a jamming capability and upgraded radar warning equipment with wing-tip mounted digital receivers.
Current models are derived from the original version that made its first flight in August 1955. On Oct. 14, 1962, it was the U-2 that photographed the Soviet military installing offensive missiles in Cuba.
The U-2R, first flown in 1967, is 40 percent larger than the original U-2 designed by Kelly Johnson in the mid fifties. Current U-2R models are being reengined and will be designated as a U-2S/ST. The Air Force accepted the first U-2S in October, 1994. The last R model trainer will be converted to an S model trainer in 1999.
A tactical reconnaissance version, the TR-1A, first flew in August 1981 and was delivered to the Air Force the next month. Designed for stand-off tactical reconnaissance in Europe, the TR-1 was structurally identical to the U-2R. Operational TR-1A's were used by the 17th Reconnaissance Wing, Royal Air Force Station Alconbury, England, starting in February 1983. The last U-2 and TR-1 aircraft were delivered to the Air Force in October 1989. In 1992 all TR-1s and U-2s were redesignated U-2R.
U-2s are based at Beale Air Force Base, Calif. and support national and tactical requirements from four operational detachments located throughout the world. U-2R/U-2S crew members are trained at Beale using three U-2ST aircraft.
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