The Air Force has employed 19 Lockheed Martin technicians in Southwest Asia for nearly two years to perform the extensive inspections the U-2 Dragon Lady aircraft need every 400 flying hours. The high-flying reconnaissance aircraft are in demand, so the Lockheed technicians work round-the-clock to complete each “phase inspection” within 14 days. They comb through the aircraft, looking for “things such as cracks, leaks, system failures, or wear patterns,” says Lockheed’s U-2 dock chief Bill Bonnichsen. Since Lockheed started doing the inspections in SWA in January 2005, the contractor team has completed 26 inspections, fixing problems along the way.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.