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U-2 Spy Plane

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U-2 SPY PLANE
Specialty:
A single-seat high-altitude aircraft that supports U.S. and allied ground and air forces through surveillance; provides continuous surveillance from 72,000 feet. This takes it well out of range of typical surface-to-air missiles like the SA-2, which has a range of up to 60,000 feet. The U-2 has no weapons.
Alternative to satellites: The polar orbits of satellites take them over Iraq for only a few minutes daily; The U-2 can spy at any time
Wings: Straight wings give it glider-like characteristics, allowing it to maneuver better than missiles in thin air
Radio receivers: Let the plane eavesdrop on Iraqi ground communications
Infrared camera: Sees heated areas on surface or underground, even in darkness
Side-looking radar: Penetrates clouds, can see fixed and moving objects
Aperture: Has the accuracy of a large radar antenna; can see object 1 foot wide
Electronic systems: Can confuse anti-aircraft missile in thin air of high altitudes
Recent events: A U-2 has been continuously flying over Iraqsince Nov. 5, 1997, to help determine if Iraq has destroyed its weapons -- a condition for ending the U.N. sanctions placed on Iraq in 1991.
Conflict: Saddam Hussein has threatened to shoot down U.S. spy planes, such as the U-2


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Source: Knight-Ridder/Tribune

 

Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Co.

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