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ER-2 Performance and Specifications
November 23, 2011

ER-2 three view drawing

ER-2 three view drawing

Two ER-2 aircraft, the civilian version of the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, are used as airborne science platforms by NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center. The single-seat aircraft are platforms for high-altitude science missions flown over various parts of the world and have acquired data above 95 percent of the Earth's atmosphere.

They are also used for Earth science and atmospheric sensor research and development, satellite calibration, and data validation. The ER-2s can carry a maximum payload of 2,600 pounds of experiments in a nose bay, the main equipment bay behind the cockpit, two wing-mounted superpods, and small underbody and trailing edges.

Aircraft Specifications


Length: 63 ft long
Wingspan: 104 ft
Vertical tail: Top of vertical tail is 16 ft above ground when aircraft is on bicycle-type landing gear

Primary Mission/Capabilities:

• Airborne science platform (in situ and remote sensing)
• Atmospheric sampling
• Sensor research
• Satellite calibration and data validation


Speed: 410 kts at altitude
Operating altitude: from 20,000 to well above 70,000 feet
Load factor: 2,600 lb of experiments in nose bay, main equipment bay, and two wing-mounted


Range/Duration: 2,200 nm/6 hr; capable of missions in excess of 10 hours and ranges in excess of 6,000 nm
Engine: Single GE F-118 engine
Engine thrust: 17,000 lb

Test Instrumentation:

• Aircraft instrumentation recording/transmission
• Video transmission

Aircraft Systems:

• Four pressurized modular experiment compartments
• Standard flight control system
• Single GE F-118 engine

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Page Last Updated: March 11th, 2014
Page Editor: NASA Administrator