Timeline

 

24 November 1954

development of the U-2 was approved

4 August 1955

maiden flight of ‘The Article’ at Watertown Strip, later known as Groom Lake

1 May 1956

deployment to Europe begins

20 June 1956

first operational CIA mission flown over eastern Europe

4 July 1956

first overflight of the Soviet Union

11 June 1957

USAF begins U-2 operations from Laughlin AFB

13 May 1959

first flight of the U-2C powered by a P&W J75, which replaced the P&W J57 of the U-2A

1 May 1960

Gary Powers was shot down over Sverdlovsk, during the 24th and last U-2 overflight of the Soviet Union

April 1961

First flight tests of an aircraft modified for inflight refueling

13 January 1962

first overflight of mainland China by a pilot from the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) on Taiwan

10 February 1962

Gary Powers released from Soviet prison and returned to the US in a spy swop

14 October 1962

a U-2 flight over Cuba revealed the presence of ballistic missiles, and thus prompted the Cuba Missile Crisis

27 October 1962

USAF pilot Rudy Anderson shot down over Cuba

June 1963

USAF U-2 wing moved to Davis Monthan AFB

August 1963

first test flight from an aircraft carrier

March 1964

USAF deploys U-2s to Vietnam

28 August 1967

the enlarged and improved U-2R version made its first flight

8 September 1967

a fifth U-2 flown from Taiwan was shot down over China, prompting the end of overflights

13 August 1971

first SENIOR BOOK mission was flown over the southeast Asia, with COMINT data downlinked to a ground station

13 February 1973

first flight of the pilot training U-2CT version

July 1974

CIA ends its U-2 operation, including the joint venture on Taiwan

April 1976

USAF ends operations in southeast Asia, but establishes a new base in Korea

July 1976

USAF moves its U-2 squadron to the 9th SRW at Beale

8 January 1980

the first operational ELINT collection sortie was accomplished, using the SENIOR RUBY system

1 August 1981

the first of 37 new-build TR-1, U-2R and ER-2 aircraft took off on its first flight

9 July 1985

the first operational mission with the ASARS imaging radar was flown over central Europe

December 1986

First deployment of an aircraft with the SENIOR SPAN satellite relay system

23 May 1989

first flight of an aircraft re-engined with the GE F118 turbofan, redesignated U-2S

17 August 1990

first two U-2s deployed for Operation Desert Shield to monitor Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait

January-February 1991

12 aircraft flew 238 missions in 42 days during Operation Desert Storm

March-May 1999

U-2s flew 189 missions in 78 days over the Balkans during Operation Allied Force

December 2000

first flight of the RAMP development airplane, with a modern ‘glass’ cockpit

5 October 2001

first mission over Afghanistan in Operaton Enduring Freedom

March 2003

Largest-ever U-2 operation as 15 aircraft flew in Operation Iraqi Freedom

Late 2005

USAF announced that the Global Hawk would replace the U-2 by 2011. This date was later postponed

March 2014

Another U-2 retirement date was set: 2017

May 2017

USAF announced that the U-2 will be kept in service indefinitely