Episode 173 — Eyes in the Sky: From U-2 to Reaper and Beyond

In Episode 173 of the Aerospace Advantage, Eyes in the Sky: From U-2 to Reaper and Beyond, John “Slick” Baum chats with former U-2 pilot Maj Gen H.D. “Jake” Polumbo, USAF (Ret.), the highest-ranking officer to fly the Dragon Lady in combat, and long-time experienced MQ-9 pilot Lt Col Johnny Duray, who has risen through the ranks as a line pilot to a commander in the RPA world. 

ISR is one of the most crucial capabilities military actors require at the strategic, operational and tactical levels. It all comes down to gaining a decision advantage over an adversary by knowing when and where to position forces to net desired effects, while minimizing points of vulnerability. While this macro goal may be timeless, the means of securing ISR data has evolved markedly. This episode will focus on this evolution by exploring the U-2, a Cold War icon manned ISR aircraft, and then discuss the uncrewed ISR mission through the lens of the MQ-9 Reaper, which can execute ISR, while also employing kinetic strike capabilities and a range of other functions. Both aircraft are tremendously capable, yet they speak to requirements from different eras. This is an incredible set of perspectives from some of the top experts who have “been there and done that”—you’ll definitely want to listen.


Host: John “Slick” Baum, Senior Fellow, The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies

Producer: Shane Thin

Executive Producer: Douglas Birkey

Guest: Maj Gen H.D. “Jake” Polumbo, Jr., USAF (Ret.), Founding Partner and Senior Consultant, Two Blue Aces

Guest: Lt Col John Duray, Commander, 9th Attack Squadron, Holloman AFB, USAF

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