Politics

The evolution of American surveillance planes

Updated 10:16 AM ET, Thu May 21, 2015
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The Convair B-36 Peacemaker was a bomber used by the United States Air Force during the 1950s. Before 1955, it was used primarily for nuclear weapons delivery for the Strategic Air Command.
The North American B-45 spy plane was the first jet bomber. The development for this aircraft started in 1944 and continued until 1945, during WWII. It was used in several enemy countries in the 1950s.
A Boeing E-3 Sentry AWACS performs a flying display at the 47th International Paris Air Show on the last day of the event in 2007. The plane is known for its distinctive rotating radar dome. PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images
A Lockheed U-2, nicknamed "Dragon Lady," is a reconnaissance aircraft operated by the United States Air Force. Here, one lands at the Akrotiri British RAF airbase near Limassol, in the eastern Mediterranean in 2013. The plane provides all-weather intelligence gathering. It has served the Air Force for more than 50 years. Yiannis Kourtoglou/AFP/Getty Images
A flight suit for the SR-71 spy plane is displayed at the Pima Air and Space Museum May 13 in Tucson, Arizona. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images
A U.S. Air Force SR-71A, also known as the "Blackbird," is put through its paces during a test flight over Beale Air Force Base in California. The aircraft, built by Lockheed, was used for strategic reconnaissance for almost 24 years before the fleet was retired in 1990. Getty Images
A P-8A Poseidon, the Navy's newest anti-submarine warfare and surveillance plane, conducts flyovers above the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group during exercise Bold Alligator 2012. U.S. Navy/ Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Daniel J. Meshe