At the annual symposium of the United States Air Force Association, Lockheed presented a concept for a future tactical reconnaissance aircraft, codenamed TR-X. It will inherit many features and characteristics from its illustrious predecessor, the U-2, such as a similar airframe, engine, payload, speed and climb rate.
Nevertheless, the TR-X will be cheaper, it will have more stealth technologies, it will be more tenacious, technically equipped and armed. It is possible that a laser weapon will be installed on it.
Another feature of the TR-X is the ability to fly in unmanned mode if the mission turns out to be too dangerous for the pilot. Lockheed Martin expects to implement its concept within 10 years.
The predecessor of the TR-X, the U-2 spy plane, is rightfully considered a veteran. It was developed under the guidance of one of the leading designers of the Lockheed Martin Corporation, Clarence "Kelly" Jones, back in 1955. At that time, the U-2 possessed unique characteristics that allowed it to spy with impunity in the airspace of almost any state.
Reconnaissance aircraft U-2
Perhaps the most infamous episode in U-2's rich track record occurred on May 2, 1960. On this day, a spy plane piloted by Gary Powers was shot down over Soviet territory in the Sverdlovsk region, and Powers himself was captured.
Later U-2 "retrained" from an aerial spy to a flying NASA observatory. The last U-2 should complete its long service in 2019, and therefore the question arose about its replacement.