US moves U-2 strategic reconnaissance planes to Europe

Two U-2S ultra-high altitude reconnaissance aircraft belonging to the US Air Force crossed the Atlantic from mainland US and landed at the Fairford airfield in England on Tuesday, Interfax-Ukraine reports.

The planes transferred from the Beale Air Force Base in California are named DRAGON86 and DRAGON88 and have the registration numbers 80-1071 and 80-1094 respectively.

No official reason for the transfer of these two aircraft to Europe has been disclosed.

Until recently, the Fairford airfield has been used to deploy U-2S aircraft, which can perform surveillance at altitudes of more than 21,000 m, in the Middle East.

For the purpose of gathering intelligence along the Russian border, the Pentagon has primarily been using RC-135s with various modifications, RQ-4B Global Hawk long-range unmanned surveillance aircraft, and P-8 Poseidon anti-submarine planes deployed in Europe.

On 1 May 1960, an earlier U-2 model of the US Air Force piloted by Francis Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union by a surface-to-air missile while performing a reconnaissance flight. The pilot was able to eject from the plane, but was arrested when he landed and charged with espionage.

In March this year, the US transferred six strategic bombers to Europe.

  USA, Europe, U-2S, Soviet Union