Lockheed Unveils ‘TR-X’ As Next-Generation U-2

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WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin this week revealed its Skunk Works proposal for a next-generation U-2 spy plane, a tactical reconnaissance aircraft called “TR-X.”

As the Air Force looks to retire Lockheed’s U-2 Dragon Lady in 2019, the company has come up with a next-generation replacement, Scott Winstead, strategic business manager for the U-2 program, told reporters on Monday at the Air Force Association’s annual conference. Lockheed is still shaping the capabilities of TR-X, a high-altitude aircraft that is designed to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions for decades to come. Continue reading

Spy Plane Fries Air Traffic Control Computers, Shuts Down LAX

On Wednesday at about 2 p.m., according to sources, a U-2 spy plane, the same type of aircraft that flew high-altitude spy missions over Russia 50 years ago, passed through the airspace monitored by the L.A. Air Route Traffic Control Center in Palmdale, Ca. The L.A. Center handles landings and departures at the region’s major airports, including Los Angeles International (LAX), San Diego and Las Vegas.

The computers at the L.A. Center are programmed to keep commercial airliners and other aircraft from colliding with each other. The U-2 was flying at 60,000 feet, but the computers were attempting to keep it from colliding with planes that were actually miles beneath it.

Though the exact technical causes are not known, the spy plane’s altitude and route apparently overloaded a computer system called ERAM, which generates display data for air-traffic controllers. Back-up computer systems also failed. Continue reading