Armed Lockheed U-2 Projects

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From Code One magazine:

At several points over the career of the U-2 high altitude reconnaissance aircraft, Lockheed engineers have looked at the possibility of arming the Dragon Lady. This photo, circa 1965, shows a U-2R model in the Lockheed low speed wind tunnel in Burbank, California, with various air-to-air missiles and free-fall munitions on fourteen hardpoints under the wings.

Source:
http://www.codeonemagazine.com/gallery_slideshow.html?item_id=1693
 

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batigol

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I spy a pair of Phoenixes and something that looks suspiciously close to a 3,000lb bomb.
 

Pioneer

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It's an interesting photo!!
The U-2 is more versatile than what we would give credit! I've even seen drawings of studied anti-tank/close air support variant which was supposedly submitted by Lockheed to the USAF's AX (Fairchild A-10 Thunderbolt II) program.


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TomS

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AAAdrone said:
I think those missiles might be Mavericks, not phoenixes.

Nope. These missiles show a distinctive squared off leading edge where the fin meets the fuselage seen in Phoenix. In Maverick, the fins taper straight into the body.

OTOH, it might be intended more of a representative shape than a specific weapon.
 

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TomS said:
AAAdrone said:
I think those missiles might be Mavericks, not phoenixes.

Nope. These missiles show a distinctive squared off leading edge where the fin meets the fuselage seen in Phoenix. In Maverick, the fins taper straight into the body.

OTOH, it might be intended more of a representative shape than a specific weapon.

Sorry I have to agree - Phoenix (or perhaps Eagle) AAM's in my opinion!

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fightingirish

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Hi folks, so who wants to volunteer to be the bombardier/navigator/observer in the front of this aircraft? ;) :D




Source: Airpower - August 2005, page 36
 

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overscan (PaulMM)

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Hmm. Doesn't match what I know for CL-351, a quite different project. Timing is wrong for that designation to be U-2R/TR-1 related, unless deliberately wrong. Article by Jenkins & Landis though they are pretty thorough.


index.php
 

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fightingirish said:
Hi folks, so who wants to volunteer to be the bombardier/navigator/observer in the front of this aircraft? ;) :D


Source: Airpower - August 2005, page 36

Yes - my reaction. Although I suspect that the bombardier might primarily be operating the command guided missiles.
 

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PaulMM (Overscan) said:
Doesn't match what I know for CL-351, a quite different project.


On this US Navy variant, you can make out the number "351B" on the nameplate.
 

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overscan (PaulMM)

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Hmm.. maybe its "351" in a different numbering scheme?

CL-351 is used by Jay Miller in this context in his Skunk Works book as well.
 

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PaulMM (Overscan) said:
Hmm.. maybe its "351" in a different numbering scheme?


It's possible there was, in fact, an additional numbering scheme for Skunk Works designs. For example, the attached X-24C model is labeled L-301. But the CL-301 had nothing to do with the X-24C. The stand on the armed U-2 is labeled "Lockheed 351B" as opposed to CL-351B. I've never seen the CL- prefix removed from a Lockheed California designation, especially after GL- numbers (identifying Lockheed Georgia) came about. I think what we're seeing here are bits and pieces of an internal numbering system, exclusive to Skunk Works. But I could be wrong.
 

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aim9xray

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fightingirish said:
Hi folks, so who wants to volunteer to be the bombardier/navigator/observer in the front of this aircraft? ;) :D

I really have to wonder that, since...

a) It appears that the forward fuselages on the model are interchangeable; and
b) There is ejection capability depicted for the pilot and back-seater, but not the "nose gunner"

... if this was just an elaborate "inside" joke on the part of the Skunk Works. Thoughts?
 

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aim9xray said:
b) There is ejection capability depicted for the pilot and back-seater, but not the "nose gunner"

Perhaps an ejectable nose section was envisaged as in the Heinkel Julia, Martin Mideget., or other
aircraft with prone pilot ?
 

aim9xray

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Well, perhaps. How unfortunate it is that the modelmakers did not see fit to issue him a parachute. Or a pressure suit.

But seriously, could you tell me what possible function this third crewmember could serve?
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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The known CL- listings are notably barren of ADP (Skunkworks) designs e.g. the many U-2 A-12 and SR-71 derivatives you would expect to find. I think it likely that there was an internal ADP sequence of numbers for classified designs. Possibly L-XXX.


The armed U-2 is then "351B" or "L-351B" which is distinct from the CL-351 and much later in timing. Maybe other number clashes could have the same cause.
 

hesham

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My dear Paul,a reference to CL-351 in Wikipedia;


U-2NIn company designator for Lockheed Model CL-351, later redesignated U-2R. The N is acronym for New.

U-2RSecond generation U-2, Lockheed Model CL-351, approx one-third larger than the U-2C. Ordered to provide SIGINT missions nears the borders of the Warsaw Pact, as well as providing high quality images by Long-Range Oblique Reconnaissance (LOROP) cameras. The larger cockpit allowed the pilot to wear a much more comfortable full pressure suit and was fitted with a zero-zero ejection seat. The high altitude version of the Pratt & Whitney J75-13B engine was retained, giving 17,00 lbs thrust. A new 104 ft span wing, with an area of 1,000 square ft, would provide the additional lift needed for the new design that soon had a gross take-off weight of 40,000 lb. The U-2R could carry a 3,000 lb payload over 3,000 miles at altitudes at or above 70,000 ft. From 1964 until 1974, a number of U-2Rs were capable to operate from US Navy carriers. Two seat conversion trainer designated U-2RT, later redesignated TU-2R. Twelve ordered in FY68.


http://wiki.scramble.nl/index.php/Lockheed_U-2
 

Stargazer2006

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hesham said:
My dear Paul,a reference to CL-351 in Wikipedia;

Again... and again... Wikipedia is just a source like others. It is not guaranteed that what you find there is accurate, although it often is.

There was a series of "Article" designations for the U-2 family, and the number 351 was probably part of that block.

L-/CL- numbers were the main series, but there were also GL- and LG numbers for the Georgia division, Model numbers (to which an "L-" was sometimes added for better sounding commercial purposes) and so forth...
 

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Re: (Armed) Lockheed U-2 Projects / optionally manned U-2

In the newest issue of AW&ST, Amy Butler reports, that Lockheed Martin has crafted a reduced-cost plan to “optionally man“ its U-2, throwing a new possibility for a mixed USAF aircraft fleet for high- altitude reconnaissance.


Some interesting info from the article:

[...]
This design calls fer the addition of a new composite center wing-box, that will fit between the metal wings and extend each by 10 feet.[...]
The additional space offered by the center wing box could house a full-motion video sensor, [...]
This design has been updated since Lockheed submitted a concept in 2012, which called for 1480 feet long composite wings optimized for fuel carriage. [...]
Source: Lockheed Updates Unmanned U-2 Concept - Amy Butler - Aviation Week & Space Technology November 24, 2014 - Volume 176 Issue 41 - page 26


Lockheed Updates Unmanned U-2 Concept
U-2 advocates push optionally manned variant as a rival to Global Hawk
Nov 24, 2014 Amy Butler Aviation Week & Space Technology
The fat lady has not necessarily sung on the fate of the U.S. Air Force’s high-flying U-2 intelligence aircraft.


Lockheed Martin has crafted a reduced-cost plan to “optionally man” its U-2, throwing a new possibility into the mix as Congress weighs whether to shift to an all-Northrop Grumman Global Hawk unmanned aircraft fleet for high-altitude reconnaissance. With an optionally manned U-2, advocates for the so-called Dragon Lady say the venerable aircraft finally can match the endurance offered by the RQ-4B Global Hawk. Convincing lawmakers and the Pentagon likely will be an uphill battle, though.


The Office of the Secretary of Defense finally opted after more than a decade of waffling to commit to a U-2 retirement path in its fiscal 2015 budget request, carving a path for an all-Global Hawk fleet. But U-2 advocates are continuing to argue that its attributes—including a 5,000-lb. payload—are superior to those of the Global Hawk, a high-flying unmanned aircraft capable of lofting 3,000 lb. of sensors. The U-2 operates at 70,000 ft. while the Global Hawk is limited to 60,000 ft., reducing its slant angle—or sensor range—for targets. It also lacks defensive systems that the U-2 carries.


Advocates of the two programs have been in a tit-for-tat funding dispute for nearly 15 years, each annually attempting to raid the other’s budget and gain support from combatant commanders. The Pentagon’s final ruling this year calls for a $1.8 billion upgrade for the Global Hawk to achieve near-parity with the U-2, with the main focus to improve the reliability and sensor performance of the unmanned aircraft. Based on an April report to Congress, the Air Force is spending $9.1 billion on the Global Hawk program to develop and buy 45 aircraft, including seven baseline Block 10s, six Block 20s (some outfitted with the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node relay), 21 Block 30s capable of imagery and signals intelligence and 11 Block 40s operating the radar payload.


Originally the product of a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency experiment to design an inexpensive unmanned aerial system, Global Hawk was thrust into operation to support a spike in reconnaissance requirements after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It has been supporting operations in the Middle East and Asia since then, gaining operational experience it likely never would have received had the U.S. not conducted operations in Afghanistan. And, eventually, Global Hawk earned a place as a potential replacement for the U-2.


Its strongest edge over the U-2 remains its endurance; the Global Hawk can stay aloft for 24 hr. or more. The U-2 is constrained by regulations restricting pilots to 12 hr. in the cockpit. U-2 pilots also are required to wear pressure suits and have reported increased instances of the “bends” after long-duration missions supporting Afghanistan operations. Without hydraulics, the U-2 is notoriously complex to fly, with pilots having to muscle against strong winds to and from altitude. Landing the aircraft, which was designed with extreme lift qualities, is treacherous.


But Lockheed Martin says it can “unman” the U-2 for far less than the cost of the Global Hawk upgrade program. A newly crafted design (see image) will cost about $700 million, to optionally man three U-2s and provide two ground stations. The ground stations are compact racks and processors, so they can be operated virtually anywhere, according to a Lockheed Martin official. Once developed, flyaway cost is $35-40 million.


This design calls for the addition of a new center wingbox that will fit between the metal wings and extend each by 10 ft. It also will provide space behind the cockpit for connecting cables into the aircraft’s actuators. “The pilot could electronically turn off the actuators and it is just like you have today, it is flying by cable,” the Lockheed official says. The design is intended to leave the cockpit untouched to allow for manned operation.


Landing could be made more predictable with the unmanned system. “As a prior U-2 pilot, I always thought this was going to be an aviation challenge. When I looked to our avionics engineers, they almost scoffed at me. . . . They said, ‘We’ve already done it—landing [an unmanned aircraft] on a pitching and rolling carrier,’ . . . and this is far easier,” the Lockheed official says. “This would be more safe, the reason being the failure modes.”


For example, in cases where pilots encounter full nose-up or down trim, they are required to apply roughly 75 lb. of pressure to the stick to maintain flight, which can be challenging for pilots in pressure suits, especially toward the end of a long mission. “Even if you are a pilot in the airplane and you have a full nose-up or a full nose-down trim failure, you can engage the autopilot and let it fly all the way down and to the landing,” the Lockheed official says. “The actuators would handle those loads easily.”


The additional space offered by the center wingbox also could house a full-motion video sensor, the official says. Use of the wingbox will avoid a redesign to the tail that a wing extension could require. This design has been updated since Lockheed submitted a concept in 2012, which called for 140-ft. composite wings optimized for fuel carriage.


To date, Lockheed has simply completed preliminary design work. However, the proposal could whet the appetite of some lawmakers leery of retiring the U-2; with the last of the aircraft rolling off the production line in 1989, their structural lives are intact. And there is some risk associated with upgrading the Global Hawk.


Still, the Pentagon has been fickle in its high-altitude reconnaissance plan; in 2012, it proposed killing the Global Hawk Block 30 and keeping the U-2 as the workhorse intelligence collector. That was overturned this year. “I don’t see DOD reverse-reversing themselves,” said one congressional staffer, noting that another switch would likely irritate lawmakers.


Whichever platform wins out to handle the Air Force’s high-altitude reconnaissance needs, it will only be one element of a larger architecture. Both U-2 and Global Hawk are standoff platforms.


A version of this article appears in the November 24 issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology.
Source: Lockheed Updates Unmanned U-2 Concept - Amy Butler - Aviation Week & Space Technology November 24, 2014
 

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Mike OTDP

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Re: (Armed) Lockheed U-2 Projects / optionally manned U-2

fightingirish said:
In the newest issue of AW&ST, Amy Butler reports, that Lockheed Martin has crafted a reduced-cost plan to “optionally man“ its U-2, throwing a new possibility for a mixed USAF aircraft fleet for high- altitude reconnaissance.
Lockheed has been pushing an unmanned U-2 as an alternative to the RQ-4 for fifteen years.
 

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