Things Only U-2 Can Do

Superior Surveillance

No other high-altitude ISR asset operating today – or in development – can accomplish the daily peacetime Strategic Reconnaissance Operations of the U-2S, or compete with its future capabilities. U-2S flies more than 10,000 feet higher, 100 mph faster, and has larger bandwidth links than any other high-altitude ISR platform. Flying 24/7 around the world at record-high operational rates, U-2S collects critical targets no other platform can.


fields a 10-band imaging sensor in theater – producing strong intelligence to help the warfighter assess and anticipate threats.

has maintained a mission success rate above 95% for the past decade.

can collect intelligence at 70,000-plus feet, giving it a deep look at targets.

… can be airborne within three hours of an emergent crisis. The Dragon Lady offers a proven rapid response for the warfighter.

can rapidly adjust to changing conditions and runways, flying through snow, wind and ice.

can collect intelligence going 100 mph faster than any other high-altitude ISR platform.

has nearly twice the generator power of other high-altitude ISR platforms, giving it power to collect intelligence from extreme distances.

can defend itself from threats while collecting valuable intelligence from 70,000 feet.

offers a unique design that allows for new sensors, radars, communications capabilities and other state-of-the-art equipment to be tested, developed and fielded quickly and cost-effectively.

is capable of delivering unparalleled performance for decades to come.

…needs just one airframe to collect multiple types of intelligence.

Fact vs. Myth

Fact: U-2S supports the latest sensor technologies.

Myth: U-2S sensors are stuck in the past.
The iconic U-2 has proven itself time and time again, and its sensors have been consistently upgraded to meet new missions. U-2S stands out among high-altitude ISR platforms with its ability to field a 10-band imaging sensor in theater (SYERS-2C) for the past few years – producing better intelligence to help the warfighter assess and anticipate threats. Additionally, U-2S has flight-tested almost 10 new, state-of-the-art payloads in the past two years to support maturing technologies on other platforms. As supporting technology improves, the Dragon Lady only gets stronger.

Fact: U-2S is completely upgraded.

Myth: U-2S is an outdated, Cold War-era spy plane. 
Today’s fleet, known as U-2S, is the third generation to be produced. It’s completely upgraded with a glass cockpit, fiber optic communication capabilities, and state-of-the-art avionics and sensor systems. And, the unique design of U-2S allows for new sensors and state-of-the-art equipment to be added quickly and cost-effectively.  

Fact: U-2S continues to outperform other platforms.

Myth: Other ISR platforms have surpassed U-2.
The Dragon Lady lives up to her workhorse reputation. U-2S flies 10,000 feet higher, 100 mph faster, and has larger bandwidth links than any other high-altitude ISR platform.  

Fact: U-2S airplanes can perform for decades.

Myth: U-2S airplanes can’t fly beyond the next few years. 
The lifespan of a U-2S is 75,000 flight hours, while its average age is only 15,500 hours. The Dragon Lady is capable of delivering unparalleled performance for decades.