An Enduring Innovation: Celebrating 65 Years of the U-2

This year, the U-2 Dragon Lady celebrates 65 years of supporting the Air Force’s mission with superior surveillance. An impressive design for its time, the aircraft took its first flight on Aug. 1, 1955.  

In true Lockheed Martin Skunk Works® fashion, the aircraft’s modular design provided flexibility and agility, allowing for multiple generations of Skunks to evolve the aircraft and develop solutions to evolving future threats.

Today, the U-2 continues to defy the possible. While it continues to fill an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance role, an essential element shaping the future battlespace. 

Connecting the Future

The U.S. Air Force’s ability to operate anytime, anywhere is essential. The proven, agile and reliable U-2S Dragon Lady flies 24/7/365 to ensure global security with unparalleled performance. With a unique, modular design, the U-2S demonstrates and proves new technologies in weeks - not years - enabling the rapid fielding of next generation capabilities for the warfighter today while furthering technology needed for the future.

Superior Battlespace Awareness

The future is all about speed and data – getting the right information to the right person at the right time. Advancements to systems onboard the U-2S will allow the aircraft to simultaneously collect, analyze and share data, providing a complete battlespace picture in the not too distant future.

New Capabilities Now

The modularity of the U-2S allows the aircraft to quickly adapt to dynamic mission needs and respond to emerging threats anytime, anywhere. The modernized multi-role aircraft coupled with long-range standoff sensors and onboard processing enables the U-2S to operate in and around contested areas with ease while rapidly enabling 4th and 5th generation systems. Its unique design and open architecture allows for the latest sensors and equipment to be added to the aircraft quickly and cost-effectively. 

Path to the Future

The U-2S is transforming the future battlespace by proving emerging technologies and rapidly fielding new capabilities that help our armed forces envision a new way to fight. This enables enhanced capabilities for the warfighter today, while advancing critical technologies needed for the future.

Keeping the U-2S Mission Ready

As part of a longstanding partnership with the U.S. Air Force, Lockheed Martin provides critical sustainment services in support of the U-2S’ 24/7/365 operations. A thorough interval extension program for maintenance activities continues to enhance the affordability of the U-2S throughout its life cycle.

Skunk Works®

At Lockheed Martin Skunk Works®, your mission defines our purpose. Our team of dedicated engineers and scientists assume it can be done. With a visionary focus on the future, we partner with our customers to anticipate tomorrow’s capability gaps and technology needs to solve the most critical national security challenges today.

Learn more about Skunk Works®