'Dragon Lady' spy plane lands at UK base after unknown mission

The U-2 spy plane landed at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire and is an icon of the Cold War - with a range of specifications to make it one of the most stealthiest and secretive craft in the air

A spy plane nicknamed ‘Dragon Lady’ landed at a UK RAF base after completing an unknown mission amid the Ukraine-Russian war.

The U-2 spy plane landed at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire and is an icon of the Cold War - with a range of specifications to make it one of the most stealthy and secretive craft in the air.

It can fly at an altitude of 70,000 feet, capturing imagery and intercepting signals intelligence, and is said by pilots to be one of the hardest aircraft to fly.

Due to the high altitude it can fly, pilots must wear compression suits, and when landing, rely on a fellow pilot on the ground to guide them as they land on one wheel, reports NorthantsLive.

It comes as tens of thousands of troops from Europe and North America are now training in arctic conditions in Norway under “Operation Cold Response.”

A U-2 spy plane landing at RAF Fairford

A U-2 spy plane landing at RAF Fairford (Image:SWNS)

The exercise is defensive and long-planned, and it demonstrates NATO’s ability to respond decisively to any threat, from any direction. Around 30,000 troops from 27 nations, including NATO’s close partners Finland and Sweden, are taking part in the exercise, as well as about 220 aircraft and more than 50 vessels.

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It can fly at an altitude of 70,000 feet, capturing imagery and intercepting signals intelligence

It can fly at an altitude of 70,000 feet, capturing imagery and intercepting signals intelligence (Image:SWNS)

A group of elite Royal Marines also form part of the training exercise which although timed and planned, sends a gentle reminder to Moscow of the consequences should the war spread West. Highlighting the importance of the mission, and remaining highly diplomatic in the process of doing, operation Commander Yngve Odlo said: “It’s a defensive exercise.

“It’s not a military operation with an offensive purpose.”

Organised every two years, the naval, air and ground drills are held over vast areas of Norway, including above the Arctic Circle, and in sub-zero temperatures.They will, however, stay several hundred kilometres away from Norway’s border with Russia.

Russia declined Norway’s invitation to send observers.

The U-2 spy plane landed at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire and is an icon of the Cold War

The U-2 spy plane landed at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire and is an icon of the Cold War (Image:SWNS)

A spokesperson for the Russian Embassy in Oslo said: “Any build-up of NATO military capabilities near Russia’s borders does not help to strengthen security in the region.”

A statement by NATO says: “Cold Response deals with a fictional scenario where Norway is attacked and NATO’s collective defence clause, Article 5, is invoked. Exercise Brilliant Jump 2022, the certification of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, is linked to Cold Response.

“NATO Allies are transparent in their exercises and respect their international commitments. Observers from all members of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe have been invited to Cold Response, but Russia declined the invitation.

Responders at the scene after a building was destroyed by a Russian rocket attack in downtown Kharkiv, Ukraine on March 14

Responders at the scene after a building was destroyed by a Russian rocket attack in downtown Kharkiv (Image: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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