June 29, 2005

U.S. Spy plane downed (Delayed post from June 22)

Haven't seen alot said about this on the Blogosphere, although a little heads up folks, this story is a week old, I'm just posting on this in case others missed this one: Pilot of U.S. Spy Plane Dies in Crash

An American U-2 spy plane crashed while returning to its base in the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday, killing the pilot after a mission in support of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

The aircraft crashed in the Emirates while approaching the base to land, said a Pentagon official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the operation. Early reports gave no indication of any hostile fire, but it was too soon to be certain why it crashed, the official said.

The U-2 is a single-seat, single-engine reconnaissance plane that operates at an altitude of more than 70,000 feet and has been used in every major conflict the United States has fought since the aircraft went into service a half-century ago.

Flying beyond the range of most surface-to-air missiles — the pilot must wear a full pressure suit similar to those used by astronauts — the U-2 was famously shot down in 1960 over the Soviet Union.

With its bicycle-type landing gear and the challenges of handling the aircraft at low altitudes, the U-2 requires a high degree of precision during landing. Forward visibility is limited, partly because of the extended nose. A second pilot normally "chases" the U-2 while it lands, assisting the pilot by providing information on altitude and runway alignment.

The military did not immediately release the location or circumstances of the crash because it did not want to create problems for the nation where the plane went down. Officials also withheld the name of the pilot pending notification of relatives.

According to the military, the crash happened at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday EDT, which would be early Wednesday in the United Arab Emirates.

In Washington, Lt. Col. Barry Venable, a Pentagon spokesman, said the plane had completed a mission related to Operation Enduring Freedom, the code name for American operations in Afghanistan.

Posted by Kyer at June 29, 2005 11:46 AM