Released: March 17, 1997
After 30 years of service, the R-model U-2 flew its last operational sortie from Istres Air Base, France.
Maj. Domenick Eanniello, 99th Reconnaissance Squadron, flew the flight in support of Operation Deliberate Guard Feb. 21. This was the last of more than 30,000 operational missions flown by the R-model Dragonlady.
"This was a major milestone in aviation history," said Brig. Gen. Robert Behler, 9th Reconnaissance Wing commander. "The U-2 program in total has been an American aviation success story from its genesis in 1956."
"It was pretty momentous. The airplane has served the Air Force and the nation extremely well with 30 years of faithful service," said Eanniello.
Beale's four overseas detachments are now operating the U-2S. The U-2S has an upgraded engine which is lighter and more fuel efficient allowing the aircraft to fly higher and farther.
All remaining R-model aircraft have returned to Beale and will be upgraded to S-models within the next two years. In the meantime, the aircraft will be used for training purposes.