This is a really badass airplane and we wanted to show you something pretty unique: a Dragon Lady being taken apart for what is known as “Depot Level Maintenance.” Every 4,700 flight hours, each U-2 completely disassembled, piece by piece. The aircraft even gets completely repainted during the process.
The aircraft has 1,800 individual parts, each one of which is completely inspected, repaired, or replaced if needed–all in an effort to make sure the U-2 maintains its operational readiness. They’re a very unique aircraft, so the attention to detail required by the maintainers and technicians is nothing less than meticulous.
Can you imagine? 40,000 rivets. The Dragon Lady has been in service for six decades, operating at altitudes where aberrant physiological issues are more likely to kill you than any enemy fighter or SAM. Since the U-2 is absolutely crucial to our national defense and battlespace dominance, you can bet the men and women who fly them are very grateful for the level of care.