'Dragon Lady' back in the UK

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.

USAF 99th Reconnaissance Squadron U-2S 80-1067 arrives at RAF Fairford on September 27. Mark Kwaitkowski

‘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.