A U-2 Dragon Lady, from Beale Air Force Base, Calif., prepares to land at RAF Fairford, United Kingdom, June 9, 2015. U-2 pilots have a small margin of space to effectively land the plane without causing damage to the aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jarad A. Denton/Released)

Six decades after it unveiled the U-2 Dragon Lady, Lockheed Martin Corp. is pitching a replacement spy plane called the UQ-2 or RQ-X.

The world’s largest defense contractor recently discussed the idea with reporters at its Skunk Works advanced projects facility in Palmdale, California, which birthed not only the U-2, but also the SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft, F-117 Nighthawk stealth attack plane and the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jet. [Continue reading…]


Russia showed off its fifth-generation stealth fighter this week at the MAKS air show outside Moscow, according to news reports.

The T-50 is one of several prototypes developed by Sukhoi, a subsidiary of United Aircraft Corp., as part of the Russian air force’s PAK-FA program. The twin-engine fighter is designed to compete against such U.S. military aircraft as the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, both of which are made by Lockheed Martin Corp.

The multi-role T-50 has been a regular at MAKS after making its first appearance at the biennial air show in 2011. Similar to previous appearances, it performed a series of stunts, including the Pougachev’s cobra, in which the pilot raises the nose of the aircraft beyond the vertical position while maintaining constant altitude; the kulbit, in which the pilot flies a tight loop; the dead leaf, in which the pilot performs a wing-level stall; and tail-dive, in which the pilot flies vertical until losing forward momentum and falls backwards, according to an article by the state-owned RT​.com.

Here’s a video of the aircraft performing at this year’s MAKS:

While the T-50 didn’t fly at this year’s Paris Air Show, the president of United Aircraft, Yuri Slyusar, said three more of the fighters will be transferred to the Russian air force in late 2016 or early 2017 as part of a test program, bringing the total number to eight. While the T-50 has experienced some development challenges such as engine flameouts, the aircraft is performing well in tests, Slyusar said.

The governments of Russia and India have partnered to develop an export version of the aircraft. Russian officials have trained their Indian counterparts and supplied with them data and software to work on research and development.

The T-50 is designed to carry a suite of internal and external weapons, including an internally mounted 30mm cannon, air-to-air missiles such as the K-77M medium-range missile and K-74M2 short-range missile, as well as air-to-ground ordnance such as the Kh-38M missile, KAB-500 bomb, even the Kh-35UE anti-ship missile.

The following illustration shows all the weapons that can be carried by the next-generation fighter, according to infographicposter​.com:



The U.S. Air Force acknowledged it’s expanding the number of drone surveillance missions flown by contractors in response to a chronic pilot shortage in the service.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh discussed the issue Monday during a “State of the Air Force” briefing with reporters at the Pentagon. [Continue reading…]


The U.S. Air Force wants to use another word to describe the expensive, high-tech helmet that can “see through” windowless parts of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

When asked about the price tag for the pilot gear — which has ranged from $400,000 to $800,000 apiece — Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said he didn’t know its unit cost and that it won’t be finalized until the hardware enters production.

But he did have this to say about the technology: [Continue reading…]

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James is making good on her threat to send the F-22 Raptor fighter jet to Europe for the first time in response to Russian aggression in the region.

Earlier this summer at the Paris Air Show, James said the U.S. may deploy a squadron of the fifth-generation stealth fighter jets made by Lockheed Martin Corp. to the continent in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea from the Ukraine and support for separatists in the country. [Continue reading…]