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The Bremont U2 Tested

THE AIRCRAFT

The Lockheed U-2, nicknamed “Dragon Lady”, is a single-engine, very high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft operated by the United States Air Force and previously flown by the Central Intelligence Agency. It provides day and night, very high-altitude (70,000 feet / 21,000 meters), all-weather surveillance. It is an incredible aircraft, the first really of the stealth generation, and has been in active service since the 1950’s.

In the early 1950s, with Cold War tensions on the rise, the U.S. military required better strategic reconnaissance to help determine Soviet capabilities and intentions. The existing surveillance aircraft were primarily converted bombers, vulnerable to anti-aircraft artillery, missiles, and fighters. It was thought an aircraft that could fly at 70,000 feet. would be beyond the reach of Soviet fighters, missiles, and even radar. This would allow “over flights”—knowingly violating a country’s airspace to take aerial photographs.

Lockheed’s response to a government tender in the early 1950’s for a high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft, married long glider-like wings to the fuselage of another of its designs – the F-104 Starfighter. The design was rejected by the Air Force, but caught the attention of several civilians on the review panel and more importantly, the CIA. After a meeting with President Eisenhower, Lockheed received a $22.5 million contract for the first 20 aircraft. It was renamed the U-2, with the “U” referring to the deliberately vague designation “utility”. The first flight occurred at the Groom Lake test site (Area 51) on 1 August 1955.

The unique design that gives the U-2 its remarkable performance also makes it a difficult aircraft to fly. It was designed and manufactured for minimum airframe weight, which results in an aircraft with little margin for error. High-aspect-ratio wings give the U-2 some glider-like characteristics and to maintain their operational ceiling of 70,000 feet, the aircraft must fly very near their maximum speed. The aircraft’s stall speed at that altitude is only 10 knots less than its maximum speed. This narrow window is referred to by the pilot’s as the “coffin corner”.

Because of the high operating altitude, the elite group of U2 pilots must wear the equivalent of a space suit. The suit delivers the pilot’s oxygen supply and emergency protection in case cabin pressure is lost at altitude. To prevent hypoxia and decrease the chance of decompression sickness, pilots wear this full pressure suit and begin breathing 100% oxygen one hour prior to launch to de-nitrogenize the blood.

THE SQUADRON

The 9th Reconnaissance Wing, based at Beale Air-force base is responsible for deploying warrior Airmen and delivering persistent, relevant and timely high-altitude intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance products. To accomplish this mission, the wing is equipped with the nation’s fleet of U-2 and RQ-4 reconnaissance aircraft and associated support equipment. The wing also maintains a high state of readiness in its combat support and combat service support forces for potential deployant in response to theater contingencies. The 9th Reconnaissance Wing is based at Beale Air-Force base in Northern California.

THE WATCH

Following the pioneering development and dramatic success of the Bremont military air-crew watch developed in association with the world’s largest ejection seat manufacture, Martin-Baker, the elite 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale wanted a watch with the same DNA but tested to their own requirements.

The finished U2 chronometer had most of the advanced elements of the Bremont MB, including the Anti-Shock rubberized movement mount designed to withstand the MB Ejection Seat program, but also added functionality including testing that took watch to 100,000 feet and –70 degrees C.

A unique DLC-coated, opened backed U2 watch has been made for the U2 Squadron, a variant based on this Squadron watch with a Lockheed U-2 silhouette on the dial will also be manufacture and available to retail but will be limited to 150 pieces. Two other watches, one DLC and the other hardened stainless steel, using the U2 watch as inspiration will also be produced.

Features

Automatic Swiss Chronometer tested movement. Modified calibre 13 1/4″ BE-36AE, 25 jewels. Glucydur balance, anachron balance spring, nivaflex 1 mainspring, 28,800 bph, 38 hour power reserve.
Hour/minute/second and day/date at 6H
DLC treated case – 42mm diameter
domed anti-reflective scratch resistant crystal
Sapphire crystal case back to see movement. Movement supported by Bremont Anti-shock movement mount
inner rotating Roto-clik bezel (bi-directional – operated by crown at 4H)
anodized aluminium middle case barrel
straps – one black calf leather strap with Bremont buckle, plus one additional NATO style nylon velcro strap

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Written by kevin

August 11, 2010 at 1:44 am

Posted in Fashion, Luxury Fashion

Tagged with , , ,

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