One of the Air Force’s oldest aircraft has been among its busiest in the Middle East. A U-2 Dragon Lady, flown by a 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron pilot, on Thursday hit 30,000 hours of flight time while supporting US Central Command operations. The aircraft was flying a surveillance mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, targeting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The Dragon Lady, which launched from the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia and hit the milestone at 4:26 a.m. Eastern time, is the second U-2 to hit the 30,000 flight hour milestone, but the first to do so in an expeditionary environment, according to a CENTCOM release. A U-2 with the 5th Reconnaissance Squadron at Osan AB, South Korea, was the first to reach 30,000 flight hours last year.
The Pentagon awarded a contract worth over $2 billion for the next batch of F-35 engines to Pratt & Whitney on June 5. The deal for Lot 17 F135 engines, totaling $2.02 billion, is expected to be completed by December 2025.