USAF U-2 strategic intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft assigned to the 9th Reconnaissance Wing/99th Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale Air Force Base, California, deployed to RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, recently.
A pair of U-2S platforms – 80-1071 and 80-1067 – touched down at the UK base on September 21, as ‘Dragon 21’ and ‘Dragon 22’, respectively, flying in from RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus.
‘Dragon 21’ was in Senior Ruby configuration, with Senior Span dorsal fairing, Senior Ruby super-pods, DDL2+ dual data link and the Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar System (ASARS) nose.
‘Dragon 22’ was equipped with Senior Span dorsal fairing, DDL2+, Senior Ruby super-pods and the Senior Year Electro-optical Reconnaissance System (SYERS) nose.
On the 24th, 80-1067 departed Fairford, destined for the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex, Georgia, for a period of maintenance. Two days later, 80-1071 was joined by another U-2S, 80-1080, which finally departed the base on October 2. Meanwhile, 80-1071 was still at the base as of October 4. The presence of the ISR assets in the UK is rumoured to have been related to the large-scale Tsentr 2019 manoeuvres taking place in Russia at the same time.