Lockheed Martin is preparing an unsolicited offer to the Air Force for a “TR-X” replacement for the U-2, and could have something flying by 2025 if given the go-ahead. Scott Winstead, company U-2 strategic business manager, said at a press briefing during ASC?15 that the aircraft would be a cost-effective way to continue the “complementary” role of the U-2 with the RQ-4 Global Hawk because it could re-use the U-2S General Electric F414 engines, which have a lot of life left in them, as well as many of the U-2’s unique sensors and reconnaissance systems. What would be new, he said, is an airframe that would be stealthy enough to survive in heavily defended airspace. As it stands, the U-2S has enough structural life to serve until 2045, he said, but conditions will change long before then, requiring more survivability. The notional TR-X could also perform electronic warfare, communications node, and even laser attack missions. Winstead said a fleet of 25-30 airplanes would be sufficient to take over the duties now performed by 18 U-2s and 25 Global Hawks. The design would change, however, if the Air Force wants an aircraft able to fly at 90,000 feet. That, Winstead said, “would require new engines.” The notional design would have a longer airframe and somewhat larger wings and elevators than the U-2; it could be optionally manned, but more likely unmanned if USAF wants endurance of longer than 20-22 hours. The U-2S limit today—driven by the endurance of the pilot—is about 14 hours. Asked about prospects for a sale—given that the U-2 has been terminated and resurrected several times—Winstead said “the design will have to sell itself.” The notional name, TR-X, harkens back to when the U-2 was called the TR-1, and had a distinctly tactical mission. Lockheed sees a similar role for the jet in the future, Winstead noted.
The Senate confirmed over 400 senior military promotions Dec. 5, after Sen. Tommy Tuberville mostly lifted his monthslong hold on military nominations. Specifically, Tuberville lifted his hold on all nominations below four-star generals and admirals. Out of 455 pending general and flag officer nominations, affecting 451 people, the Senate confirmed…
Three types of U.S. Air Force fighter aircraft participated in air-to-air refueling with a commercial tanker for the first time last month, coinciding with a bilateral exercise between the U.S. and Singapore that concluded Nov. 24.
Dec. 5, 2023
The eight Airmen aboard the CV-22 Osprey that crashed off the coast of Japan were declared dead as the operation transitioned to search and recovery Dec. 5.
Adm. Christopher Grady, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs and head of the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, is pushing a “portfolio” approach to requirements and wants his position to have “more teeth” so he can enforce it.
The Michigan Air National Guard’s 127th Air Refueling Group recently put together what may be a first of its kind in the Air Force: a training program that teaches KC-135 tanker crews how to perform specialized fueling operations (SFO): ground-based procedures that could help gas up military aircraft in a…
Air Force Global Strike Command has finished collecting a second round of test samples looking for hazardous chemicals at its three intercontinental ballistic missile bases and plans to expand testing to Vandenberg Space Force Base early next year, officials said Dec. 1.
Dec. 4, 2023
After a nearly weeklong search, U.S. and Japanese search teams located most of the wreckage of U.S. Air Force CV-22 Osprey and the remains of most of its crew members.
The U.S. conducted a drone strike in Iraq on Dec. 3, as the American troops there continue to be targeted by Iranian-backed militants. The strike took place near Kirkuk as the militants were preparing to attack U.S. troops in northern Iraq, a U.S. official told Air & Space Forces Magazine.…