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The Lockheed U-2 , nicknamed " Dragon Lady ", is an American single-jet engine , ultra-high 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 (70,000 feet; 21,336 m), all-weather intelligence gathering .  The U-2 has also been used for electronic sensor research, satellite calibration, and communications purposes.
Early versions of the U-2 were involved in several events through the Cold War , being flown over the Soviet Union , China , Vietnam , and Cuba . In 1960, Gary Powers was shot down in a CIA U-2A over the Soviet Union by a surface-to-air missile. Another U-2, piloted by Major Rudolf Anderson , Jr., was lost in a similar fashion during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
The U-2 is one of a handful of aircraft types to have served the USAF for over 50 years. The newest models (TR-1, U-2R, U-2S) entered service in the 1980s. The current model, the U-2S, received its most recent technical upgrade in 2012. They have taken part in post-Cold War conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq , and supported several multinational NATO operations.