Skip to comments.U-2 pilot flies final manned ISR mission over Iraq
Posted on 12/20/2011 8:47:11 AM PST by SZonian
A U-2 pilot completed the final manned intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission over Iraq Dec. 18, as the last American troops withdrew into neighboring Kuwait.
Maj. Steve flew his first mission over Iraq during Operation Southern Watch in the early '90s, so it was fitting for the 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron Airman to close out this chapter of his unit's history.
The major, deployed from Beale Air Force Base, Calif., said he was proud to be part of this landmark event.
"The best part about it was it was quiet for the folks on the ground," said Steve, a Lake City Fla., native. "There were no issues as they were leaving so it was a good day. I'm proud to have been a part of it."
As a U-2 pilot, the major is responsible for flying missions between nine and 12 hours at a time. The Dragon Lady, as the U-2 is commonly known, carries some of the most sophisticated equipment in the world and provides data for coalition leaders to make informed decisions about any given situation.
"High-altitude ISR has been a part of operations in Iraq since Desert Storm, so it feels good to know that what we've done has made a difference for battlefield commanders and troops on the ground, said Lt. Col. Andy, the 99th ERS commander. "It's truly the end of an era."
While this part of their mission is completed, Airmen from the 99th ERS will continue supporting commanders in the field with flights over Afghanistan and other parts of Southwest Asia, as well as supporting units in the Horn of Africa.
"This is the busiest the U-2 has ever been in its storied 56-year career," the colonel said. "It amazes me to see what we've been able to accomplish so far. And as long as combatant commanders still need us, we'll keep flying."
(Last names have been omitted from this story for security purposes)
A family friend of ours in 1950s Japan was a U2 pilot.
My dad designed the hanger for the U-2.
I thought the U2 was retired years ago.
glider-like wings on a F-104 body ... I see it now
It was, just like it is being retired now.............expect when we need it.
Lockheed made the coolest planes of the U2 - F104 era.
As a U-2 pilot, the major is responsible for flying missions between nine and 12 hours at a time. The Dragon Lady, as the U-2 is commonly known, carries some of the most sophisticated equipment in the world and provides data for coalition leaders to make informed decisions about any given situation. /////
Thank goodness the Iranians didn’t hack into the controls and land it in Iran./S