Lockheed’s U-2S spy planes are famously difficult to launch and land. Their extremely poor field of vision requires a chase car on the ground that can keep up with them.
They use some powerful vehicles and now we learn that the Air Force has turned to the all-electric Tesla Model S to launch its own spy planes.
While it is still being used today, the Lockheed U-2S was designed in 1950’s. It has always been an extremely difficult plane to operate and Mythbusters even suggested that it could be “the most difficult plane to fly” in the world.
They need a whole ground team to put it in the air and back on the ground.
The US Air Force used a Camaro Z/28, which Jalopnik featured in an article 4 years ago:
“The process is pretty simple: The Air Force buys fast and relatively inexpensive Detroit muscle and puts a highly trained pilot in the driver’s seat. Those pilots then act as ground-based wingmen for the U-2s in the air, talking them through runway operations.”
As it turns out, electric cars are not a bad match for the job since they need quick acceleration and they only have to go fast for short periods of time.
It requires a top speed of 140 mph and the Tesla Model S can reach 155 mph (250 km/h). Also, the car having the quickest acceleration of any production car in the world also doesn’t hurt.
Though it’s definitely on the expensive side – and significantly more expensive than a Camaro.
Nonetheless, it appears that the Air Force decided to use the car to launch its own Lockheed U-2S. Elliot Langran spotted and filmed a Model S during a U-2S lift-off at the RAF Fairford air base this week:
It looks like Tesla’s vehicles are becoming more popular with the aviation community. Earlier this month, we watched a Tesla Model X being used to launch a full-size glider into the air.