U-2S Dragon Lady appears at Northern Edge exercise

May 19 (UPI) -- The U-2S Dragon Lady made an appearance at the Northern Edge military exercises based out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. The exercise involves over 6000 personnel and 200 aircraft from every service branch.

The U-2S is based out of the 9th Reconnaissance squadron from Beale Air Force Base, Calif., to test new technologies on this later version of the 5th generation upgraded version of the venerable aircraft.

The exercise, which ran from May 1 to May 12, is meant to improve interoperability and cohesion between the various branches.

"It's a big stepping stone for us; it's the first year the U-2 has participated in Northern Edge. The fact that we have forward deployed to Alaska, we've taken over 130 personnel from the 9th RW and deployed them out to JBER is an achievement," Maj. Dustin, the 9th Reconnaissance Squadron's wing tactics office weapons school development branch chief, said in a press release.

The personnel in support of the operation spent four weeks at JB Elmendorf-Richardson and spent two weeks in active-flying exercises.

"The benefits of coming to Northern Edge are twofold, it allows us to exercise our ability to forward deploy to other locations. Most importantly it allows the U-2 to demonstrate new advanced technology that is coming out, such as sensor and communication packages," Dustin said.

The U-2S Dragon Lady is a high-altitude intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance plane. It has a range of more than 7000 miles and a flight ceiling of over 70,000 ft. The U-2 and its variants have been in operation since 1957.

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