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This video from the CIA YouTube channel shows U-2 aircraft launching via catapult and trapping with a tailhook:

U2 on carrier

The description only offers this:

After stopping U-2 flights over USSR in May 1960, the IC looked for new ways to use this unique reconnaissance asset. One idea was to modify the U-2 to fly from US Navy aircraft carriers.

What motivated these experiments? Were they successful? Was the plane ever used operationally from a carrier? What would a mission objective be?

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    $\begingroup$ It doesn't look like it's using a catapult, just launching the old school way. Don't think it would have needed one and I'll bet the structure couldn't take cat launches anyway. That might have been one of the problems with using it as it would need an awful lot of deck area and would probably take the carrier out of action from doing its normal duties. $\endgroup$ – John K Jul 9 at 12:48
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    $\begingroup$ The wings on a U2 seem so long that I find it shocking that they can fit one on a carrier deck. Obviously, the plane is much smaller than I envision. I've never seen a U2 in person, so I have no sense of the scale, but I've been on the Intrepid docked in NYC. $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Jul 9 at 16:49
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    $\begingroup$ @FreeMan the U-2 isn't all that big, but it was a very tight fit on that carrier deck.The carriers used are the Kitty Hawk class carriers, which are quite a bit larger than Intrepid (their flight decks are at the widest point almost twice as wide as that of Intrepid for example). $\endgroup$ – jwenting Jul 10 at 5:49
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the info, @jwenting. That would have be some high-precision landing on a moving carrier deck. Far worse than a modern fighter! $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Jul 10 at 13:35
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From Wikipedia (emphasize mine):

At one time, in an effort to extend the U-2's operating range and to eliminate the need for foreign government approval for U-2 operations from USAF bases in foreign countries, it was suggested that the U-2 be operated from aircraft carriers. Three aircraft were converted for carrier operations by the installation of arrester hooks, and carrier-qualified naval aviators were recruited to fly them.

It turned out to be possible to take off and land a U-2 from a carrier. Testing in 1964 with the USS Ranger and in 1969 with the USS America proved the concept. The only operational carrier use occurred in May 1964 when a U-2, operating from USS Ranger, was used to spy on a French atomic test in the Pacific.

In 1969, the larger U-2Rs were flown from the carrier America. The U-2 carrier program is believed to have been halted after 1969.

It also provides the following resources:

http://www.kristinhillartist.com/FishHawk_article.html

https://theaviationist.com/2015/06/28/u-2-carrier-operations-story/

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    $\begingroup$ Could you summarize the contents of those links? It would improve your answer and help combat link rot. $\endgroup$ – AEhere supports Monica Jul 9 at 8:21
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    $\begingroup$ @AEhere I believe the snippet from Wikipedia already does that $\endgroup$ – DeepSpace Jul 9 at 8:24
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    $\begingroup$ We have different standards for summary depth then :) $\endgroup$ – AEhere supports Monica Jul 9 at 8:26
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    $\begingroup$ @AEhere That's also what my teachers used to say ;) $\endgroup$ – DeepSpace Jul 9 at 8:26

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