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U-2 Spyplane Replacement Mulled By Lockheed Martin

Airplane Would Likely Not Be An 'Optionally Piloted' Aircraft

The Air Force is set to retire the iconic U-2 surveillance airplane, which first flew in 1955, in 2019, but the mission for the aircraft will likely continue.

To that end, the Lockheed Martin Skunkworks is considering a follow-on aircraft to the U-2 that would be stealthier and have a longer flight time, according to a report posted on the Popular Science website.

And while the U-2 has recently competed with UASs such as the Global Hawk for reconnaissance missions, the presence of a pilot on board the spyplane could be a deterrent to shooting it down. Scott Winstead, Lockheed's head of U-2 Strategic development, opines that a country like North Korea would have no qualms about shooting down an unmanned aircraft, but shooting down an unarmed, manned aircraft is considered an act of war. He added that the U-2 is also often used as a political tool by the U.S. Government.

(image from file)

FMI: www.lockheedmartin.com


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