In this image of a U2S, what it the very unaerodynamic looking pod at the wing-tip? It looks like it holds some sort of sensor package. However, it doesn't seem to appear on all U2s (at least not based on photos on Wiki).

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bf/Lockheed_U-2_TR-1B.jpg Source: Wikipedia

  • $\begingroup$ I believe it's part of/an attach point for the landing skids. That may not be the only use, however, so I'll pass on leaving this as an answer $\endgroup$
    – Jon Story
    Mar 7 '16 at 15:22

The pod contains the Radar Warning Reciever (RWR). The variant in the picture is the TR-1B, which had wingtip mounted RWR units. According to globalsecurity.org:

The Air Force has fielded new electronic countermeasures on the aircraft, giving it a jamming capability and upgraded radar warning equipment with wing-tip mounted digital receivers.

As an another exmaple, SAAB seems to have put RWR on the wingtips of Gripen, though the equipment are certainly different (U-2 uses AN/ALQ variants).

Note that the bottom of the 'pod' has (wingtip) landing skid at the bottom and navigation light on the side. The RWRs face outside at an angle of ~45$^{\circ}$. This (containing RWR, skid and nav lights in a single package) is a later design and was added to the exiting U-2Rs as retrofit. It was not avialble in the earlier models.

  • $\begingroup$ Your AN/ALQ link seems quite rather broken. $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Mar 7 '16 at 16:51
  • $\begingroup$ @FreeMan Fixed it now. $\endgroup$
    – aeroalias
    Mar 7 '16 at 23:30

In here you can find the handbook of the "civil" version on the U2, the ER-2 by NASA. Researching here and there it seems to be a "pod". In particular from the document above:

Other payload areas that have been used in the past, including the wing tips, [...] can support small instrument assemblies. The structural and electrical connections for these non-standard installa- tions require individual consideration. Contact Lockheed Engineer- ing for attachment details if you are considering one of these locations.

What is inside it depends on the versions.

According to this document in the 90s they were proposing the wing tip to install potassium magnetometers to make high altitude magnetometric measurements ove Alaska.

According to this site it is a pod used for Electronic Counter Measures (ECM).

The ECM has been upgraded in 2005, but from the photos on Airliners.net it seems to be there since before 2005.


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