In the fight against terrorism, surveillance is essential. Due to the recent slew of hacking news, the electronic surveillance gets most, or all, of the attention. But there are some tools that go back further than the inception of electronic surveillance and that are still in play. The U-2 Dragon Lady Spy plane is one of those.
One of the United States’ most secret aerial reconnaissance platforms for more than half a century, the storied U-2 Dragon Lady still flies some of the U.S. military’s most sensitive spy missions worldwide. The U-2S is a single-seat, single-engine, high-altitude/near space reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft providing signals, imagery, and electronic measurements and signature intelligence, or MASINT.
Long and narrow wings give the U-2 glider-like characteristics, and allow it to quickly lift heavy sensor payloads to unmatched altitudes, keeping them there for extended periods of time. The U-2 is capable of gathering a variety of imagery, including multi-spectral electro-optic, infrared, and synthetic aperture radar products which can be stored or sent to ground exploitation centers. This is footage from the 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron of the plane during its unusual takeoff/landing car chase after having completed a flight over Southwest Asia to gather reconnaissance information on enemy positions.