- The Washington Times - Friday, August 19, 2016

One of the most iconic U.S. airplanes of all time may soon be equipped with laser weapons.

It is likely that the U-2 spy plane made famous by Lockheed Skunk Works during the Cold War will continue serving the Pentagon for years to come. Lockheed Martin is considering ways it could turn its U-2 Dragon Lady into a laser-equipped drone.

“The Cold War spy plane’s structural integrity, modular payload bays, high power output and open mission system architecture has made it ideal for accommodating experimental payloads over the years. But Lockheed won’t confirm if it has actually chosen the GE F118-powered U-2S as its preferred airborne testbed,” Aviation Week reported Tuesday.

The original U-2 made its first flights in 1955 over the Soviet Union and was the aircraft that captured images of Soviet nuclear activity in Cuba in 1962. The plane, which has a ceiling over 70,000 feet, was even used for missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

U-2s are based at California’s 9th Reconnaissance Wing, Beale Air Force Base.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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