'Dragon Lady' gets once over at Robins

  • Published
  • By April Benton
  • U-2 Engine Program manager
A new partnership is in the works at the new Air Force Life Cycle Management Center here.

The Command and Control, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance division, which manages the U2 Program, is exploring options for organic repair and partnering with the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex to fully repair a damaged U-2 aircraft and bring it back into service.

The aircraft was transported by truck to Robins and arrived Aug. 24.

The plane incurred damage during scheduled maintenance in 2008 and soon after, returned to Air Force Plant 42 at Palmdale, Calif., where U-2 Flight Test and Periodic Depot Maintenance are routinely performed. The aircraft was later retired under PBD720 - Public Law stating that one U-2 would be retired in 2009.

Ultimately, the most cost-effective repair process will be selected, and the aircraft will be returned to Fully Mission Capable status.

It's possible the effort will be the start of long-term organic support for the U-2. The U-2 program was recently extended to 2025 and these extended operations warrant another look at the jet by aircraft battle damage repair experts at the complex.

About the Dragon Lady
The Lockheed U-2, nicknamed "Dragon Lady," is a single-engine, very high-altitude (70,000 feet) reconnaissance aircraft operated by the Air Force and previously flown by the Central Intelligence Agency.

It provides day and night all-weather intelligence gathering. The aircraft is also used for electronic sensor research and development, satellite calibration and satellite data validation. The U-2 is capable of simultaneously collecting signals, imagery intelligence and air samples. While flying at operational altitudes, the U-2 is invisible to the naked eye.

The U-2 has been the global eyes and ears of the U.S. for more than 50 years, and remains an essential and irreplaceable reconnaissance asset. That's due to its ability to direct flights to objectives at short notice, which satellites can't do.

The aircraft at Robins is a 1980s model, which consists of a more rigid airframe than its predecessor from 1968. It was the last jet of its kind off the assembly line.