Skip to comments.Taking The Pressure Off U-2s
Posted on 03/06/2012 11:18:23 PM PST by U-238
Last year the U.S. Air Force decided to extend the life of its U-2 fleet and cut back on the use of large UAVs for strategic reconnaissance. One of the many upgrades U-2s will now receive will be better cockpit pressurization. Currently, pilots operate in a cockpit pressurized to conditions found at 9,600 meters (30,000 feet). This puts more strain on the pilot's body. That, and the fact that they breathe pure oxygen while up there, means they tend to be completely exhausted after returning from a long mission. So pressuring the cockpit to the level of a lower altitude eliminates a lot of stressful aspects of each flight (like breathing pure oxygen). U-2 missions can be as long as 12 hours and more is being done to make operating the aircraft and the sensors less of a hassle. The increased use of the U-2s means more pilots will be needed. This is a problem because U-2 pilots are hard to select, train, and retain. Flying the U-2 is very hard on pilots. Because it is a difficult aircraft to fly only pilots with a lot of previous experience qualify. Even then, most do not last long. In the last 57 years only about three percent of the 900 U-2 pilots have lasted as long as 2,000 hours, and only four pilots have made it to 2,500 hours. The aircraft lasts a lot longer of course. Two of them, both over 40 years old, have been in the air at least 25,000 hours.
(Excerpt) Read more at strategypage.com ...
I had no idea that these old aircraft were still in service!
NASA has used the U-2(NASA ER-2)for many decades. NASA started using the ER-2 since 1971.
Last I heard, Raytheon had the contract for them. They’re in a number of different locations.
The Air Force wants to dump Global Hawk, which can stay on station for 24 hours, and is pilot-less, to keep using a fifty-year old airframe that requires highly specialized and trained pilot and can only stay on station half the time of the Global Hawk. Can someone tell me how this is more mission and cost effective?
You will understand that this IS "more mission and cost effective" if you realize that the real mission of the Air Force is to provide "flying time" for its "fighter jocks" (who also fill a majority of the command ranks and many members of the civilian side of the aviation "military-industrial complex"). Nothing else.
This is the same reason they are dumping the "Warthog" (NOT the source of my moniker...that was the 60's cartoon character....but I greatly admire both the aircraft and its pilots). The "fighter jocks" HATE ground support missions, which "really" should be turned over to the Army (and Marines).
There are two Avaition Week links post number#3
These pilots are in spacesuits. They breathe pure oxygen to purge their bodies of nitrogen.
Even if they pump the cockpits up in pressure (not even sure the structure could handle it) the pilots would still have to be in the suit, breathing O2, in case the pressurization fails at 70K+ feet.
Or am I just using faulty logic?
Your right. But those suits are great. They are heavy though to wear.