The U-2S: 25th Anniversary of Becoming Operational

Wilson - 10/30/2020

The U-2 "Black Cats" achieve another milestone in aviation history...
October 20, 1995, Osan AB, South Korea. Twenty Five years ago, "The Black Cats," AKA the 5th Reconnaissance Squadron (5RS), took the "new" S-Model U-2 Operational. "Operational" is often associated with a sensitive reconnaissance and/or wartime mission. 

A Brief Background: The Cold War came to Korea. From 1945-1950, Korea seemed to become entwined with the power struggles between the Western nations of Europe and the United Stateswith the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Soviet Union).   Kim il-Sung, veteran of the Soviet Army, became North Korea's first Supreme Leader. Kim il-Sung led the invasion of South Korea and the Korean Warerupted (1950-53). This was the first military action of the Cold War. Containment of Communism was a prime concern to the U.S., and its allies. The Soviets backed the North, the U.S., and its allies, backed the South. In 1951, President Truman began Peace Talks with the North, but a peace agreement did not occur. A cease fire was sought. With the cease fire of the Korean War, in 1953, a Korean Armistice was agreed upon. Technically, with the armistice, a state of war continued and still exists. All along, tensions between the North and South continued (with Kim il-Sung descendants ruling North Korea to this day).

In 1995, Eternal Leader Generalissimo Kim Jong-il(father of current Kim Jong-un) enhanced his saber-rattling and tensions rose. This being their 20th year, the 5RS U-2 Black Cats, were responsible for surveillance and reconnaissance of sensitive areas in East Asia, had to stay on watch 24/7. And it was time to change to a new model aircraft, the U-2S.


Six-Thousand miles from the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, (their supporting parent Wing at Beale AFB CA), transitioning to a different aircraft was no easy task, especially when a high, day and night ops tempo was required, 7-days a week. The Black Cats of 5RS, had to train up their maintenance teams: from aircraft mechanics to avionics technicians to the pilots who also had to train up and be proficient, and operate, both types of aircraft: all while maintaining that tough day and night ops tempo. Security was heightened, not to mention the significant logistics and supply chain needed. Even so, no missions were missed, the 5RS Black Cat mission effectiveness rate was near perfect! 

That first operational mission of the S-Model U-2 Dragon Lady, was piloted by Colonel (then LtCol) CHUCK WILSON, who was also the Commander 5th Reconnaissance Squadron. "Oscar 01” they called him.  Oscar was the name of the 15-pound black cat mascot of the organization.  And the number "1" denoted that Wilson led the organization. Osan Air Base Mig Alley Flyer was there to report on the event. Upon mission completion, the photo here was taken by Airman James Hart for the Mig Alley Flyer, Osan AB South Korea.

The Lockheed U-2, nicknamed "Dragon Lady", is an American single-jet enginehigh altitude reconnaissance aircraft operated by the United States Air Force (USAF) and previously flown by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). It provides day and night, high-altitude (above70,000 feet), all-weather intelligence collection

Although the U-2 program is over 65 years old, the airplane is not. Over the decades, the U-2 has been rebuilt (R-model) received many modifications and continues to be upgraded.  Today’s U-2S features a GE F118 Engine , Glass Cockpit (digital) displays and has a vast array of the latest Imagery and SIGINT sensors. The service life may well last past 2040...good for the nation, good for the taxpayer.


See More Black Cats at this link: 5RS Black Cats

See this link, courtesy of  LOCKHEED MARTIN Page:


U-2S Dragon Lady Cockpit 

 The Black Cats Day Shift 1996