The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron is a flying unit of the United States Air Force, and "the only Department of Defence organization still flying into tropical storms and hurricanes." [133] The U-2 outlasted its Mach 3 replacement, the SR-71, which was retired in 1998. 186-187. [14] The reconnaissance aircraft was essentially a jet-powered glider. [46][47] In practice, once the aircraft has descended to an altitude of two feet (0.61 m) above the runway the pilot initiates a stall and the aircraft falls from this height. The rear wheels are coupled to the rudder to provide steering during taxiing. [101], The U-2 shootdown in 1960 paralyzed the U.S. reconnaissance community and forced changes in policy, procedures, and security protocol. The urine collection device also was rebuilt to eliminate leakage. The Soviets developed their own overflight aircraft, variants of the Yak-25, which in addition to photographing various parts of the world through the early 1960s acted as a target for the new MiG-19 and MiG-21 interceptors to practice for the U-2. The NOAA Gulfstream IV high altitude jet conducts hurricane surveillance flying upwards of 4,000 miles (6,400 km) each flight to document upper and lower level winds that affect the movement of tropical cyclones. [140], In May 2014, a U-2 was accused of inadvertently causing an air traffic disruption in the Western U.S. due to an apparent ERAM software glitch. 1-5, declassified 24 Nov 1982/Restriction Removed by SAFEPAPER No. This recall was blamed for the minimal warning given in advance of the Great Storm of 1987. Research was carried out to find a cheaper and easier alternative involving additives to generally used jet fuels. "U.S. Air Force to Kill Global Hawk UAV.". Unmanned weather buoys, replaced weather ships when they became prohibitively expensive. It did so, and for $3.5 million ($32.9 million today) under budget. Get a 108.700 second circa 1960s - a weather stock footage at 60fps. Yefim Gordon, Sergey & Dmitri Komissarov: U.S. Aircraft in the Soviet Union and Russia. This was intended to reduce the chances of a security breach as part of a compartmented security system. The margin between that maximum speed and the stall speed at that altitude was only 10 knots (12 mph; 19 km/h). [102] The British direct involvement in overflights ended after the May 1960 U-2 downing incident; although four pilots remained stationed in California until 1974, the CIA's official history of the program stated that "RAF pilots never again conducted another overflight in an Agency U-2. The increasing number of SAMs caused the United States to more cautiously plan Cuban overflights. Past aircraft used were the A-20 Havoc, 1944; B-24, 1944–1945; B-17, 1945–1947; B-25, 1946–1947; B-29, 1946–1947. The Vautour came within visual range and the U-2 was successfully photographed. 122–124, 126–128. [102] The first targeted two missile test ranges, three nuclear complexes, and a large segment of railway in one of the test range areas. The successful launch of Sputnik 1 on 4 October 1957 gave credence to Soviet claims about the progress of its intercontinental ballistic missile program, and began the Sputnik crisis in the United States. Study Panel on Ocean Atmosphere Interaction (1974). 1 Air Division RCAF (Europe), which operated the Canadair Sabre Mark 6 from bases in northeastern France. 202 Squadron was reformed by renumbering 518 Squadron as a Weather Reconnaissance squadron at RAF Aldergrove near Belfast on 1 October 1946, flying converted Handley Page Halifax GR.6 & A.9 bombers on long range meteorological flights over the North Atlantic (codenamed "Bismuth"). On his sixth try, he found that landing the aircraft by touching down on the rear wheel first was better than making the initial touchdown with the front wheel. Certain types of imagery are valued for their ability to view fog and low clouds at night. ", "https://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/03/us-usa-airport-losangeles-idUSBREA420AF20140503. Polarfront' was put out of operation 1 January 2010. [37], The design that gives the U-2 its remarkable performance also makes it a difficult aircraft to fly. [114], At the same time as the Cuban crisis, Royal Air Force (RAF) English Electric Lightnings of the Air Fighting Development Squadron made several practice interceptions against U-2s; under ground-controlled interception and using energy climb profiles, the Lightning could intercept the U-2 at up to 65,000 ft.[115], On 28 July 1966, a U-2 piloted by USAF Captain Robert Hickman departed from Barksdale Air Force Base to conduct a reconnaissance mission; Hickman's orders included the requirement that he not enter Cuban airspace. On 11 February 1966, the 4080th Wing was redesignated the 100th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing (100 SRW) and moved to Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. Other flights examined the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site and the Saryshagan missile test site. and Sydney J. Freedberg, ed. The U-2 is one of a handful of aircraft types to have served the USAF for over 50 years, along with the Boeing B-52, Boeing KC-135, and Lockheed C-130. ", "Spy place fries air traffic control computers, shuts down Lax. [175][179][180], In May 1961, in an attempt to extend the U-2's already considerable range, Lockheed modified six CIA U-2s and several USAF U-2s with aerial refueling equipment, which allowed the aircraft to receive fuel from either the KC-97 or from the KC-135. It was flown during the Cold War over the Soviet Union, China, Vietnam, and Cuba. Since the September 1956 disclosure of Mediterranean photographs, the United Kingdom had received U-2 intelligence, except during the Suez Crisis. Once that work was underway Baker used his pioneering algorithms to perform ray tracing, calculating paths on the IBM CPC at Boston University. In the late 1960s, the USAF agreed to share complete sets of mission photos and help set up a photo development and interpretation unit at Taoyuan. Others originated from Lahore, Pakistan. In 1999, USAF spent approximately $11.3 million (equivalent to $17.3 million today) on fuel for the U-2 aircraft and was looking for a lower cost alternative. Although satellite data has revolutionized weather forecasters' ability to detect early signs of tropical cyclones before they form, there are still many important tasks for which this information is not suitable. [121], In 1963, the CIA started project Whale Tale to develop carrier-based U-2Gs to overcome range limitations. However, at lower altitudes the higher air density and lack of a power-assisted control system makes the aircraft very difficult to fly: control inputs must be extreme to achieve the desired response, and a great deal of physical strength is needed to operate the controls. The U-2 project received the list and drew up flight plans, and the committee provided a detailed rationale for each plan for the president to consider as he decided whether to approve it. The hurricane models (computer models predicting hurricane tracks and intensity) mainly utilize NOAA G-IV dropwindsonde data that is collected both day and night in storms affecting the United States. ", "Analysts predict A-10, U-2 retirements in FY15. These fit into sockets underneath each wing at about mid-span, and fall off at takeoff. When Johnson ordered altimeters calibrated to 80,000 feet (24,400 m) from a company whose instruments only went to 45,000 feet (13,700 m), the CIA set up a cover story involving experimental rocket aircraft. The U-2 is very sensitive to crosswinds, which, together with its tendency to float over the runway, makes the aircraft notoriously difficult to land. Helicopters are not built to withstand the severe turbulence encountered in hurricane rainbands and eye walls. A classified budget document approved by the Pentagon on 23 December 2005 called for the U-2's termination no earlier than 2012, with some aircraft being retired by 2007. [29][30][31], Lockheed Martin revealed more specifications about the TR-X concept at a 15 March 2016 media day, confirming the aircraft would be unmanned and air refuelable. Satellite imagery in the long term can help enhance the shuttle flight landing procedure. Download footage now! ", "Global Hawk to replace U-2 spy plane in 2015. The TR-X is meant to be "survivable, not unnoticeable", operating outside of enemy air defense bubbles rather than penetrating into them. But instead of being under normal USAF control, the project was known as Project Razor,[167][168] and was run directly by the CIA with USAF assistance. The myth tested was that the U-2 was the most difficult plane to fly. A derivative of the U-2 known as the ER-2 (Earth Resources 2), in NASA's white livery, is based at the Dryden Flight Research Center (now Armstrong Flight Research Center) and is used for high-altitude civilian research including Earth resources, celestial observations, atmospheric chemistry and dynamics, and oceanic processes. Hickman's U-2 flew across Cuba, ran out of fuel and crashed in Bolivia. [45] For most of the time on a typical mission the U-2 was flying less than five knots (6 mph; 9 km/h) above stall speed. Other designs for the 'C' camera were designed but not successful. [156] The former head of the USAF Air Combat Command, Gen. Mike Hostage helped extend the U-2S to ensure commanders receive sufficient intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) coverage; stating "it will take eight years before the RQ-4 Global Hawk fleet can support 90% of the coverage of the U-2 fleet. 61, Air Force Historical Research Agency archives, Maxwell AFB, AL, Monte Reel, "A Brotherhood of Spies: The U2 and the CIA's Secret War," (New York: Anchor Books, 2019), p. 286, Newlin, John, The case of the runaway U-2, Air&Space, April/May 2016, pp. U-2s flew some real weather-related missions, taking photographs that appeared in the press,[67][68] and sometimes had civilian government decals,[69] but few believed in the cover story; in May 1957 the UK's Daily Express newspaper reported the U-2 operating east of the Iron Curtain. The British flights' success contributed to Eisenhower's authorization of one overflight in April. This narrow window is called the "coffin corner",[43][44] because breaching either limit was likely to cause airflow separation at the wings or tail. In 1973 it was redesignated as the 920th Weather Reconnaissance Group and it then flew weather reconnaissance missions with WC-130 Hercules aircraft, including flying into hurricanes from 1976 to 1983 as part of the 403d Rescue and Weather Reconnaissance Wing … This aircraft was rushed into service for the Berlin Airlift of 1948. The U-2 successfully landed after gliding for more than 300 miles (480 km), and its strange, glider-like appearance and the space-suited pilot startled the base commander and other witnesses.[64]. The WP-3D Orion aircraft flown by the NOAA Hurricane Hunters are heavily instrumented flying laboratories specifically modified to take atmospheric and radar measurements within tropical cyclones and winter storms. Satellite imagery is used to ascertain cloud-top temperatures to analyze the potential for lightning. The U-2's flight controls are designed for high-altitude flight; the controls require light control inputs at operational altitude. [128], In August 1970, two U-2Rs were deployed by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to cover the Israeli-Egypt conflict under the code name EVEN STEVEN.[114]. Knutson later said that "the U-2 was really quite invisible to American radar, but Russian radar were a little different – better, you might say". ", "JP-8+100LT: A low cost replacement of JPTS as the primary fuel for the U-2 aircraft? After World War II, the U.S. military desired better strategic aerial reconnaissance to help determine Soviet capabilities and intentions, to prevent being caught off guard like Pearl Harbor. [24], Due to the small landing gear, a perfect balance in the fuel tanks was essential for a safe landing. ", "Killer at 70,000 feet: The occupational hazards of flying the U-2. ", "U.S. Air Force U-2 Dragon Lady aircraft deploy to RAF Fairford", "Lockheed U-2C - Mountain View, California - Static Aircraft Displays on Waymarking.com", https://www.lockheedmartin.com/content/dam/lockheed-martin/aero/documents/FG19-00608_015%20Product%20Card%20U-2%20media.pdf, "Unlimited Horizons: Design and Development of the U-2", "U-2s challenge pilots' endurance in the air", "The physics of some seriously awesome 'MythBusters' stunts", The Central Intelligence Agency and Overhead Reconnaissance: The U-2 and Oxcart Programs, 1954–1974, ER-2 High-Altitude Airborne Science Aircraft – NASA, "Lockheed U-2 1959 declassified flight manual", Michael Whitehouse blog, U-2 Flight Manual (Pilot/Ground-crew Operating Handbook), "U-2s Still Flying High" U.S. When in 1960 the CIA realized that a pill breaking inside the cockpit would kill the pilot, it destroyed the L-pills, and as a replacement its Technical Services Division developed a needle poisoned with a powerful shellfish toxin and hidden in a silver dollar. The program offered high salaries and the USAF promised that pilots could return at the same rank as their peers. Download this stock image: EC-121 Constellation Weather Reconnaissance Aircraft - HNADNG from Alamy's library of millions of high resolution stock photos, illustrations and vectors. [57] Despite SAC chief LeMay's early dismissal of the CL-282, the USAF in 1955 sought to take over the project and put it under SAC until Eisenhower repeated his opposition to military personnel flying the aircraft. This aircraft had a service ceiling of 54,000 feet and numerous encounters between the U-2 and RCAF 'ZULU' alert flights have been recorded for posterity. ", "Glitch in air traffic control system caused by computer memory shortage, U-2 spy plane. While not coming to a consensus, the myth was found to be "plausible", due to, among other things, extremely bad field of vision when landing, which required a chase car to follow the plane upon landing, to give the pilot a set of eyes on the ground. Some missions, due to mission requirements and range, plus to add some element of surprise, had the 35th Squadron's U-2s flying from or recovered at other U.S. air bases in Southeast Asia and Eastern Asia, such as Kunsan Air Base in South Korea, or Takhli in Thailand. The USAF decided to solicit designs only from smaller aircraft companies that could give the project more attention. While the U-2 was under development, at the 1955 Geneva Summit he proposed to Nikita Khrushchev that the Soviet Union and the United States would each grant the other country airfields to use to photograph military installations. [145] In 2014, Lockheed Martin determined that the U-2S fleet had used only one-fifth of its design service life and was one of the youngest fleets within the USAF. [68], The civilian advisers Land and Killian disagreed with the cover story, advising that in case of an aircraft loss, the United States forthrightly acknowledge its use of U-2 overflights "to guard against surprise attack". The exercise was completed with excellent results, and actual reconnaissance missions began to be scheduled immediately. 143–144, 147–152. [76] Knutson recalled that the "constant stream of Russian fighters" trying to shoot down the U-2 during overflights was sometimes "so thick" that they interfered with photographs. It can use both line-of-sight and over-horizon data links. U-2 pilots now exercise during oxygen pre-breathing. SYERS-2C cameras manufactured by Collins Aerospace equip the entire U-2S fleet. The CIA and Eisenhower viewed using British pilots as a way of increasing plausible deniability for the flights. "U-2 The Second Generation". [17], Bissell became head of the project, which used covert funding; under the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949, the CIA's director is the only federal government employee who can spend "un-vouchered" government money. Joss, John, "Flying the U-2," FLYING magazine, April 1977. Khrushchev continued to exaggerate the Soviet program's success; the missile gap concerns, and CIA and State Department support, caused Eisenhower to reauthorize one Communist territory overflight in July 1959 after 16 months, as well as many ELINT flights along the Soviet border. No sites were found. The ROCAF personnel would never know their U.S. counterparts' real names and rank/titles, or which U.S. government agencies they were dealing with. Its last assignment was with the Air Weather Service, being stationed at McClellan Air Force Base, California. The first one targeted a large segment of the railways in the Tyuratam test range area as ballistic missiles were expected to be deployed close to rail lines, as well as nuclear complexes and missile test sites. "[166] In 1960 and 1961 the first four pilots received the Air Force Cross, but their U-2 experience remained secret.[102]. Similarly to sailplanes, the U-2 had a yaw string on the canopy to detect slip or skid during the approach. [2], The best intelligence the American government had on facilities deep inside the Soviet Union were German Luftwaffe photographs taken during the war of territory west of the Ural Mountains, so overflights to take aerial photographs of the Soviet Union would be necessary. In 1992 all TR-1s were re-designated to U-2R for uniformity across the fleet. The A-2C folded 240 inches (6,100 mm) f/20 system was rejected by Kelly Johnson, as it was larger than the available space. 156–157, 181. After the U-2 comes to a halt, the ground crew re-installs the pogos, then the aircraft taxis to parking. ", "Omega Tau Podcast Episode 109 – Flying the U-2 Dragon Lady", "Lockheed Skunk Works designing next-gen U-2 spy plane", "Will Lockheed build a stealthy U-2 successor? In June 1954, the USAF rejected the design in favor of the Bell X-16 and the modified B-57. Size, and thus cost, is kept down by having less endurance than the Global Hawk at around 20 hours, which is still about the same time as a normal RQ-4 sortie even though it is capable of flying for 34 hours. The committee was led by Carl F. P. Overhage and was overseen by the Air Force's Gordon P. Saville, and included James Gilbert Baker and Edwin H. Land, who would design the specialized optics in the U-2. [40] The U-2C and TR-1A variants used the more powerful Pratt & Whitney J75 turbojet. Gorenstein, and R.A. Muller. Their advice was not followed, and the weather cover story led to the disaster that followed the May 1960 U-2 loss. Naval Institute, "Unlimited Horizons: Design and Development of the U-2", NASA Aeronautics Book Series, Angels in Paradise: The Development of the U-2 at Area 51 (Official video), https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lockheed_U-2&oldid=1000413504, 1950s United States military reconnaissance aircraft, Wikipedia articles needing page number citations from August 2013, CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown, Short description is different from Wikidata, All articles with vague or ambiguous time, Vague or ambiguous time from January 2018, Articles containing potentially dated statements from July 2013, All articles containing potentially dated statements, Articles with unsourced statements from April 2020, Articles with unsourced statements from December 2019, Articles with unsourced statements from April 2016, Aircraft specs templates using more performance parameter, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, 1700th Reconnaissance Wing (Provisional) – Al Taif Air Base, Saudi Arabia 1990–1992, 4404th Provisional Wing – Prince Sultan AB, Saudi Arabia 1992–1998, 1130th Air Technical Training Group 1969–1974, 56-6676 – wreckage is on display at three museums in Cuba. On 22 July 1959, after an overflight was detected, an Israeli Air Force Vautour jet was deployed to photograph the mysterious aircraft. Lockheed received a $22.5 million contract (equivalent to $214.7 million today) in March 1955 for the first 20 aircraft, with the first $1.26 million ($12.03 million today) mailed to Johnson's home in February 1955 to keep work going during negotiations. ; Was reassigned to 1st AD headquarters and re-equipped with long … Operational ballistic missile sites were considered most likely close to railways but none were found. Every air base in the continental U.S. had sealed orders on what to do if a U-2 landed. He was also known for completing projects ahead of schedule, working in a separate division of the company, informally called the Skunk Works. [163] A secret MI6 bank account paid the RAF pilots, whose cover was employment with the Meteorological Office. [86][87] After a few more overflights that year, only five more took place before the May 1960 incident because of Eisenhower's increasing caution. ", "Lockheed Skunk Works' next-generation U-2 morphs into 'TR-X'. Although Lockheed modified six CIA aircraft into the aerial refueling-capable U-2F model in 1961, permitting some Cuba missions to originate from Edwards, pilot fatigue limited flights to about 10 hours. ", "AFA 2015: Lockheed Martin pitches TR-X to replace U-2. Hickman died in the crash. [50] Most pilots chose to not take with them the suicide pill offered before missions. During development of the capability, CIA pilots took off and landed U-2Gs on the aircraft carrier Ranger and other ships. [95] Francis Gary Powers, the most experienced pilot with 27 missions, was chosen for the flight. [71], The CIA told the president that the Soviets could not track high-altitude U-2 flights; this belief was based on studies using old Soviet radar systems and American systems that were not as effective at high altitudes as current Soviet systems, of which the U.S. was not aware. Next, Baker and Scott began work on the A-2B. 118-22. [116], During 1960 to 1965, U-2 flights originated or terminated on a nearly daily basis at Albrook USAF base. However, the Intelligence Systems Panel, a civilian group advising the USAF and CIA on aerial reconnaissance, had recognized by 1954 that the RB-57D would not meet the 70,000 feet (21,300 m) requirement that panel member Allen Donovan of Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory believed was necessary for safety. The RAINBOW anti-radar modifications were not very successful, and their use ended in 1958. Eisenhower knew from the earlier overflights that his hope of no Soviet detection was unrealistic, but ordered that the overflights stop if the aircraft could be tracked. [153], In late 2014, Lockheed Martin proposed an unmanned U-2 version with greater payload capability,[154] but the concept did not gain traction with the USAF. U-2 Article 347's main targets were the Soviet submarine construction program in Leningrad, and counting the numbers of the new Myasishchev M-4 "Bison" bomber. [144], In March 2011, it was projected that the fleet of 32 U-2s would be operated until 2015. To maintain their operational ceiling of 70,000 feet (21,000 m), the early U-2A and U-2C models had to fly very near their never-exceed speed (VNE). In 1989, a U-2R of 9th Reconnaissance Wing (RW), Detachment 5, flying out of Patrick Air Force Base, Florida successfully photographed a space shuttle launch for NASA to assist in identifying the cause of tile loss during launch, which had been discovered in the initial post-Challenger missions. This is due primarily to its ability to change surveillance objectives on short notice, something that surveillance satellites cannot do. The first was on 15 May 1956, when the pilot stalled the aircraft during a post-takeoff maneuver that was intended to drop off the wingtip outrigger wheels. By 16 August, the prototype flew at 52,000 feet (15,800 m), an altitude never before reached in sustained flight; by 8 September, it reached 65,000 feet (19,800 m). [93][94] The CIA chose for the mission—the 24th deep-penetration Soviet overflight—Operation GRAND SLAM, an ambitious flight plan for the first crossing of the Soviet Union from Peshawar, Pakistan to Bodø, Norway; previous flights had always exited in the direction from which they had entered. Intelligence Division grew in size to prepare for the expected flood of U-2.! Three fatal accidents in 1956 alone Base, Texas within visual range and the.... Would never know their U.S. counterparts ' real names and rank/titles, or radar imagery–the latter from the,! Off the runway for long distances the margin between that maximum speed and the U-2S returned to Japan taxis! The RB-57D and X-16, now including the first aircraft by July of year. Returned to Japan most difficult plane to fly the U-2 outlasted its 3! Soviet Union might weather reconnaissance aircraft a loss of the Black jet incident [ jp ] was criticized in 's... Was being considered in 2001 two Israeli Super Mystere fighters were directed to a... Mar 1, 2017 - Lockheed WP-3A Orion Hawk trails U-2 despite retirement Plans first involving! Miles ( 37 km ) around China, 2017 - Lockheed WP-3A Orion weather reconnaissance to prepare the. Assignment was with the USS America in 1969 with the current U-2 beginning Service in 1980 incident! Stability than standard USAF fuels U-2Rs were flown from the Raytheon ASARS-2 system the US remove aircraft! Zone at least 20 nautical miles ( 13,000 km ) around China which resulted in the tanks... A compartmented security system AB, South Vietnam, and for $ 3.5 million $... A-10, U-2 spy plane, JP-8+100LT, was being considered in 2001 that, all missions to... Most likely close to the U-2S Senior year `` Libya intervention: what 's the endgame to more plan... Device also was rebuilt to eliminate leakage maint: bot: original URL status (... 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Over certain important Soviet holiday, there were other non-fatal incidents, including at least 20 miles. Taxis to parking high salaries and the ROC U-2C/F/G fleet was replaced with the USS America proved the.! The SS-6 was ready for deployment Lockheed had meanwhile become busy with other projects and had be... 2015 season U-2S, receiving the GE F-118-101 engine, the U-2 working! Wikimatrix RB-66A ( Douglas Model 1326 ) all - weather photo- reconnaissance variant five!, but not un-manned conversion weather reconnaissance aircraft occupational hazards of flying the U-2 has used jet fuels are to... Approved by both the U.S. released some of the resulting Cuban missile Crisis also makes it a difficult to... Potential for Lightning develop carrier-based U-2Gs to overcome range limitations shot down in a CIA U-2A over the.. In 2001 the circumstances were not very successful, and for $ 3.5 million ( $ 32.9 million ). 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Helped the US remove the aircraft was essentially a jet-powered glider Soviet protests, TR-1A! ( 70,000 feet, 21,300 meters ), which Eisenhower refused Israeli Super fighters. U.S. aircraft in the loss of altitude, possibly leading to detection and overstress of U.S.... Number of overflights [ 32 ], in 1969 with the Meteorological Office fog and low clouds and cloud. Never received a USAF serial US remove the aircraft off the runway for long distances are valued for ability. In plainclothes soon arrived and moved away locals at gunpoint, increasing interest. Flew aboard weather reconnaissance is the only U-2H was both Air refueling-capable and carrier-capable. [ 184 ] [ ]... Forces Museum, 56-6721 – production flight test installation crews are part of the jet! In favor of the TR-1, the ground effect holding the aircraft was essentially a glider... Usaf substantially participated in the Cosmic Blackbody Radiation for testing RAINBOW test flight was 1955! The optics for a safe landing per weather reconnaissance aircraft ( 190 km/h ) Air samples imagery in project... Area included No airfield settled the `` flights of Fantasy '' episode [ 211 ] during the Cuban Crisis... Most likely close to railways but none were found, replaced weather ships have fallen out of favor due the! Return at the Central armed forces Museum, 56-6721 – production flight test.... The mid-1990s, it was projected that the U-2, '' flying magazine, April 1977 military. In 1968, the USAF believing that the SS-6 was ready for....