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kitplane01
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U-2

Fri Dec 10, 2021 11:44 pm

It seems the number of recon satellites operated by the Space Command and the National Reconnaissance Office is not published, but it's large. Hopefully they have the ability to photograph every militarily interesting place on earth often. Also, there are radar and sigint satellites. Given that, what does the U-2 add? Is it just photographs from closer up? Does the U-2 have any unique functions not available from space satellites?

BTW, a U-2 is not that costly to operate. It's about as much as an F-15.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: U-2

Fri Dec 10, 2021 11:48 pm

Adds availability; on call availability and, to enemies, no-notice surveillance. A combatant commander or CinC can ask for pictures when he or she wants and surprise those being watched. Satellites are vey predictable.
 
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kitplane01
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Re: U-2

Sat Dec 11, 2021 12:27 am

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Adds availability; on call availability and, to enemies, no-notice surveillance. A combatant commander or CinC can ask for pictures when he or she wants and surprise those being watched. Satellites are vey predictable.


I'm not sure I understand that. There should be a recon sat over just about every part of the earth at every moment these days??? If there are maybe 40 recon sats, each moving (predictably) at km per second ....
 
A101
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Re: U-2

Sat Dec 11, 2021 12:33 am

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Adds availability; on call availability and, to enemies, no-notice surveillance. A combatant commander or CinC can ask for pictures when he or she wants and surprise those being watched. Satellites are vey predictable.


Funny enough I just watched a show on Foxtel a few weeks ago on the U2, can’t remember the name think it was combat aircraft or something

But anyway they were saying that the U2 has had a new lease of life on real time overwatch duties are as they send back both SIGINT and video to either ground commanders or higher up the food chain

It showed how the pilot was listening into radio reports and overheard a road transport convoy got bogged somewhere and they were having trouble getting them out, he put his cameras on the area and could see red forces moving in to ambush he called in tac air and communicated with the ground convoy itself to tell them what he was see. Saved their bacon that day

One thing I did not realise that they built them up until 1989 new version call Dragon Lady
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: U-2

Sat Dec 11, 2021 1:07 am

kitplane01 wrote:
GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Adds availability; on call availability and, to enemies, no-notice surveillance. A combatant commander or CinC can ask for pictures when he or she wants and surprise those being watched. Satellites are vey predictable.


I'm not sure I understand that. There should be a recon sat over just about every part of the earth at every moment these days??? If there are maybe 40 recon sats, each moving (predictably) at km per second ....


Various opponents have proven very good at avoiding satellite surveillance. Every square inch isn’t covered every moment. U-2s complement the satellite and other surveillance means. It’s an integrated approach.
 
Newark727
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Re: U-2

Sat Dec 11, 2021 1:45 am

I had a short conversation with a NASA U-2 pilot at an airport open house last month; apparently they get a fair amount of work testing the equipment that goes on the satellites, as at a U-2's cruise altitude you've got so little atmosphere left that it's a decent representation of how things will be in orbit.
 
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kitplane01
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Re: U-2

Sat Dec 11, 2021 4:29 am

A101 wrote:
GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Adds availability; on call availability and, to enemies, no-notice surveillance. A combatant commander or CinC can ask for pictures when he or she wants and surprise those being watched. Satellites are vey predictable.


Funny enough I just watched a show on Foxtel a few weeks ago on the U2, can’t remember the name think it was combat aircraft or something

But anyway they were saying that the U2 has had a new lease of life on real time overwatch duties are as they send back both SIGINT and video to either ground commanders or higher up the food chain

It showed how the pilot was listening into radio reports and overheard a road transport convoy got bogged somewhere and they were having trouble getting them out, he put his cameras on the area and could see red forces moving in to ambush he called in tac air and communicated with the ground convoy itself to tell them what he was see. Saved their bacon that day

One thing I did not realise that they built them up until 1989 new version call Dragon Lady


Interesting. But it sounds like something that cold be done with a Predator, which is much lower cost, still in production, and doesn't risk a live pilot.
 
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kitplane01
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Re: U-2

Sat Dec 11, 2021 4:30 am

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
kitplane01 wrote:
GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Adds availability; on call availability and, to enemies, no-notice surveillance. A combatant commander or CinC can ask for pictures when he or she wants and surprise those being watched. Satellites are vey predictable.


I'm not sure I understand that. There should be a recon sat over just about every part of the earth at every moment these days??? If there are maybe 40 recon sats, each moving (predictably) at km per second ....


Various opponents have proven very good at avoiding satellite surveillance. Every square inch isn’t covered every moment. U-2s complement the satellite and other surveillance means. It’s an integrated approach.


O.K. But we cannot fly them over Iran, China, or Russia. And we can use cheap drones over Iraq and Afghanistan. What's the thing that the U2 does better/cheaper/faster than either a drone or a satellite?
 
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bikerthai
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Re: U-2

Sat Dec 11, 2021 5:21 am

Like the man said, U2 can try out new tech more quickly than sat and can fly 10,000 ft higher than the Global Hawk.

bt
 
texl1649
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Re: U-2

Sat Dec 11, 2021 11:41 am

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
kitplane01 wrote:
GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Adds availability; on call availability and, to enemies, no-notice surveillance. A combatant commander or CinC can ask for pictures when he or she wants and surprise those being watched. Satellites are vey predictable.


I'm not sure I understand that. There should be a recon sat over just about every part of the earth at every moment these days??? If there are maybe 40 recon sats, each moving (predictably) at km per second ....


Various opponents have proven very good at avoiding satellite surveillance. Every square inch isn’t covered every moment. U-2s complement the satellite and other surveillance means. It’s an integrated approach.


The US only operates something like 12-15 KH-12 or better optical spy satellites (basically billion dollar Hubble looking sats pointing down). To assume we get daily views of every inch is very incorrect, particularly of all ‘militarily interesting’ sites. I’d imagine (guess) each one only gets to about a half dozen ‘interesting’ sites per day.

https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2012/06/h ... s-spy.html
 
johns624
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Re: U-2

Sat Dec 11, 2021 2:33 pm

kitplane01 wrote:
I'm not sure I understand that. There should be a recon sat over just about every part of the earth at every moment these days??? If there are maybe 40 recon sats, each moving (predictably) at km per second ....
Tom Clancy is not a reliable source...
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: U-2

Sat Dec 11, 2021 3:05 pm

Interesting fact, a friend was the 900th qualified U-2 pilot about 12 years ago. Very small club
 
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HowardDGA
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Re: U-2

Sat Dec 11, 2021 6:01 pm

bikerthai wrote:
Like the man said, U2 can try out new tech more quickly than sat and can fly 10,000 ft higher than the Global Hawk.

bt


Expanding on this a little, the official Wikipedia service ceilings * for the planes mentioned so far in this thread are:

Predator - 25000 feet

Reaper - 50000 feet

Global Hawk - 60000 feet

U-2 - 80000 feet

Given the vulnerability of the U-2 to SAMs, it seems that none of these will work in a contested environment. Short flights with something like Growler support, maybe.

The RQ-180 will probably be the replacement as long as stealth works. But if speed and altitude are the answer...

The SR-71 had a Wikipedia ceiling of 85000 feet, so presumably also vulnerable to current SAMs.

Something with X-15 capabilities may be the answer. Or this:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynetics_X-61_Gremlins

* There are official specifications, Wikipedia specifications /s, and the real world. And anything anyone publishes about black programs is usually fiction.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: U-2

Sat Dec 11, 2021 7:05 pm

The SR, of course, has some stealth qualities and speed. Speed makes solving the missile intercept much more difficult, but missiles have improved. It was pretty common for SRs to outrun SA-2 attempts.
 
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kitplane01
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Re: U-2

Sat Dec 11, 2021 9:48 pm

texl1649 wrote:
GalaxyFlyer wrote:
kitplane01 wrote:

I'm not sure I understand that. There should be a recon sat over just about every part of the earth at every moment these days??? If there are maybe 40 recon sats, each moving (predictably) at km per second ....


Various opponents have proven very good at avoiding satellite surveillance. Every square inch isn’t covered every moment. U-2s complement the satellite and other surveillance means. It’s an integrated approach.


The US only operates something like 12-15 KH-12 or better optical spy satellites (basically billion dollar Hubble looking sats pointing down). To assume we get daily views of every inch is very incorrect, particularly of all ‘militarily interesting’ sites. I’d imagine (guess) each one only gets to about a half dozen ‘interesting’ sites per day.

https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2012/06/h ... s-spy.html


I note that’s 10 year old data. But presumably in the neighborhood. Are there other non-KH recon sats? Also don’t we buy commercial imagery? Because there are companies that photograph every inch of the earth every single day at a resolution good enough to get interesting pictures of Burning Man. https://qz.com/1126301/the-company-phot ... ingle-day/

I still don’t get the mission that the U2 can do that a much cheaper drone cannot.
 
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kitplane01
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Re: U-2

Sat Dec 11, 2021 9:55 pm

One thing a U2 can do that a Predator cannot: operate from a carrier!

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wmFgM7Ymv08

(Yes I know this is unrealistic in 2021. But it would be good in a Tom Clancy novel).
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: U-2

Sun Dec 12, 2021 12:15 am

Thirty years after the SR’s demise and budget pressures being what they are, the AF and DoD have a darn good reason to keep it in operation. Probably a classified reason, as the guys I know that flew it don’t talk.

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