One of the Air Force’s high-flying U-2 reconnaissance aircraft has now exceeded more than 25,000 flying hours, reaching that number during an Oct. 18 sortie over Southwest Asia. While aircraft No. 068-0337 is the second U-2 to reach this marker—the first was No. 068-0329 during a sortie April 4 also supporting Southwest Asia operations—it has perhaps travelled a harder road getting there. Over its 40-year history, No. 337 has bellied in for a landing three times and undergone major overhauls after each. USAF and civilian maintainers “continue to synergize their best maintenance practices in order to ensure she keeps flying strong,” said Capt. Vaughan Whited, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron officer in charge. (380th Air Expeditionary Wing report by 2nd Lt. Kidron Vestal)
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.