The Lockheed U-2, nicknamed "Dragon Lady", is an American single-jet engine, ultra-high altitude reconnaissance aircraft operated by the United States Air Force (USAF) and previously flown by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). It provides day and night, high-altitude (70,000 feet; 21,000 m), all-weather intelligence gathering.
Lockheed Corporation originally proposed it in 1953, approval followed 1954, and the first test flight occurred in 1955. It has been flown during the Cold War over the Soviet Union, China, Vietnam, and Cuba. In 1960, Gary Powers was shot down in a CIA U-2A over the Soviet Union by a surface-to-air missile (SAM). Major Rudolf Anderson, Jr., was shot down in another U-2 during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
U-2s have also taken part in post–Cold War conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and supported several multinational NATO operations. The U-2 has also been used for electronic sensor research, satellite calibration, scientific research, and communications purposes. The U-2 is one of a handful of aircraft types to have served the USAF for over 50 years, like the Boeing B-52. The newest models (TR-1, U-2R, U-2S) entered service in the 1980s with the latest model, the U-2S, receiving its technical upgrade in 2012.