Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The Air Force plans on retiring the vaunted U-2 spy plane starting in 2025
According to the service's fiscal year 2021 budget request of $120.2 million for U-2 procurement, the service "will maintain operational capability up to and through FY25" for the high-altitude plane before divesting in the aircraft beginning that year.
"These investments will address reliability, maintainability, supportability, diminishing manufacturing sources/material shortages (DMS/MS), flight test, safety issues, and integration of capability development activities in support of the broader [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] portfolio," the budget request says. "This continued investment in the platform ends in FY25, where the U-2 will be divested."
Air Force Magazine notes that, taken along with the Air Force's push to retire older versions of the RQ-4 Global Hawk, the sudden retirement of the U-2 represents a "potentially sweeping drawdown" of the service's high-altitude ISR aircraft and related capabilities.
First adopted by the Air Force in 1956, the U-2 quickly gained a reputation as the world's most sophisticated spy plane, where pilots don special, astronaut-stye suits to operate at altitudes of up to 70,000 feet for flights of between 8 to 12 hours at a time.
Until that divestiture begins, the Air Force plans to keep the U-2 flying high: As the budget documents note, the service will continue to upgrade the aircraft's critical subsystems to enable "improved collection against emerging threats and capabilities."
"RDT&E efforts will address sustainment, modification, and modernization of sensors and associated mission equipment, and focus on integrating/expanding platform capabilities within the larger ISR portfolio," the budget documents state. "These efforts include (but are not limited to) ASARS 2B/C, avionics and navigation tech refresh, mission planning software and infrastructure upgrades, modernization of aircraft data links, next generation SIGINT, and developing a quick reaction capability."
The Air Force currently expects to maintain a fleet of 31 U-2 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, according to budget documents, including four trainer aircraft.
Some Fort Bragg paratroopers who left for the Middle East on a no-notice deployment last month came home Thursday.
About 3,500 soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team were sent to Kuwait beginning Jan. 1 as tensions were rising in the region. The first soldiers were in the air within 18 hours of being told to go.
KABUL/WASHINGTON/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - The United States and the Taliban will sign an agreement on Feb. 29 at the end of a week long period of violence reduction in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Taliban said on Friday.
Large cargo ships, small fishing boats and other watercraft sail safely past Naval Station Norfolk every day, but there's always a possibility that terrorists could use any one of them to attack the world's largest naval base.
While Navy security keeps a close eye on every vessel that passes, there's an inherent risk for the sailors aboard small patrol boats who are tasked with helping keep aircraft carriers, submarines and destroyers on base safe from waterborne attacks.
So the Navy experimented Wednesday to test whether an unmanned vessel could stop a small boat threatening the base from the Elizabeth River.
Nancy Turner's modern version of keeping a candle in the window while her soldier son is away is a string of electric lights on the front porch that burn red, white and blue.
But where Turner sees patriotism and support for the troops, her Garner homeowners association sees a covenant violation and a potential $50-per-day fine.
Turner was surprised to receive a threatening email last week after an employee from Sentry Management, which manages the Sheldon Place HOA, spotted the illegal illumination during a neighborhood patrol.
"I honestly had no idea it would be a problem," Turner said.
The HOA did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent as a message through its Facebook page.
In the wee hours of Jan. 8, Tehran retaliated over the U.S. killing of Iran's most powerful general by bombarding the al-Asad air base in Iraq.
Among the 2,000 troops stationed there was U.S. Army Specialist Kimo Keltz, who recalls hearing a missile whistling through the sky as he lay on the deck of a guard tower. The explosion lifted his body - in full armor - an inch or two off the floor.
Keltz says he thought he had escaped with little more than a mild headache. Initial assessments around the base found no serious injuries or deaths from the attack. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, "All is well!"
The next day was different.
"My head kinda felt like I got hit with a truck," Keltz told Reuters in an interview from al-Asad air base in Iraq's western Anbar desert. "My stomach was grinding."