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U-2 Specs

The U-2 has been in service in one form or another since 1955. Throughout its life span it has been the cause of political unrest and great successes. It's inherent weaknesses were the reason the SR71 was built. It's inherent strengths are the reason it is still in service today. The U-2 started in the same place as the Blackbird, at skunk works. It was designed by its legendary architect, Kelly Johnson, to fly at high altitude and gather enemy intelligence.

This secretive aircraft has been in the spotlight several times. Most notably during the Cuban Missille crisis, where it played the crucial role in first spotting the missiles Russia had brought to Cuba. It was, and is, this unique aircrafts role today, to spot enemy installations, aircraft, and to gather general intelligence for the United States. Its systems are still generally top secret, but what is known show that this aircraft holds a special spot in the USAF inventory

The U-2 flown today is much better and much bigger than the one that flew in 1955. In 1967 the U-2 received a major upgrade. The new models had grown by 13 feet in length and 23 feet in wing span. Since 1967 the newer models, updated in 1981 and 1994 have received several upgrades. To learn more about the U-2 visit The Federation of American Scientists U-2 information page.

I would like to thank FAS for the use of this specification table and images


Primary Function high-altitude reconnaissance
Contractor Lockheed Aircraft Corp.
Wing span 80 feet 103 feet
Length 49.5 feet 63 feet
Empty Weight 11,700 lbs 14,900 lbs 16,000 lbs
Maximum Takeoff Weight16,000 lb 41,000 lb
(18,598 kg)
Maximum Speed 528 mph 510 mph 495 mph ~500 mph
Engine P&W J57-P-37A P&W J75-P-13B GE F-118-101
Engine Thrust 11,200 lbst17,000 lbst 19,000 lbst
Ceiling 85,000 feet 80,000 feet 90,000 feet
Range2,200 miles3,500 miles4,000 miles4,600 miles
Endurance on internal fuel 6.5 hours 7.5 hours 12 hours+10 hours
Date Deployed Aug 19551967Sep 1981Oct 1994
Crew One (two in trainer models)
Cost Classified $400 million
Production and Inventory Production:
  • 30 U-2A
    all converted to later models and retired by April 1989
  • Production:
  • 16 U-2B
  • 15 U-2R
    all converted to later models
  • Production:
  • 25 TR-1A
  • 2 TR-1B
  • 2 ER-1
  • Inventory
  • 32 Active force +
  • 4 trainers
  • 0 Reserve
  • 0 ANG