USAF’s U-2S Dragon Lady participates in Northern Edge 17 exercise


For the first time, the US Air Force’s (USAF) U-2S Dragon Lady has participated in the Northern Edge joint training exercise.

The two-week-long mission at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska, US, focused on interoperability.

The exercise saw participation from more than 6,000 service members, 200 fixed-wing aircraft and maritime forces.

During the exercise, the 9th Reconnaissance Wing (RW) tested new experimental technology on the U-2S.

The technology fully integrated the U-2S with fourth and fifth-generation aircraft, the USAF stated.

99th Reconnaissance Squadron wing tactics office weapons school development branch chief major Dustin said: “It’s a big stepping stone for us; it’s the first year the U-2 has participated in Northern Edge.

“The fact that we have forward deployed to Alaska, taken over 130 personnel from the [9th RW] and deployed them out to JBER is an achievement.”

The U-2S Dragon Lady from Beale Air Force Base in California, US, showcased capabilities it can bring to the joint fight, according to the statement.

"By merging test development, operational test and experimental technologies, we are looking at opportunities to advance the U-2 programme in both the near term as well as the next two to five years."

Detachment Two, 53rd Test and Evaluation Group U-2 and RQ-4 Global Hawk operational tests director of operations major Brian said: “We frequently fly exercises out of Beale. In the future, we are looking to take the U-2 to other locations to participate in more exercises after this successful run at Northern Edge.

“By merging test development, operational test and experimental technologies, we are looking at opportunities to advance the U-2 programme in both the near term as well as the next two to five years. By doing all three of those things we are encompassing the entire spectrum of the future of the U-2.”

Built by Lockheed Martin, the U-2S aircraft features a glass cockpit, fibre optic communication capabilities, and avionics and sensor systems.

The aircraft can collect more than twice the amount of intelligence within the same amount of on-station time as any other high-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platform.


Image: A U-2S Dragon Lady takes off during exercise Northern Edge 17. Photo: courtesy of the US Air Force photo/Staff Sergeant Jeffrey Schultze.