Why did the US risk so much on U-2 missions?
The U-2 entered service in 1956. The aircraft had a flight ceiling of 70,000 ft, initially believed to be beyond the reach of Soviet fighters, missiles and radar. The U-2 overflights across the Soviet Union were incredibly dangerous missions. Every flight was at risk of being perceived as an unauthorised invasion of another country’s airspace. President Eisenhower and the US government were desperate to know what was going on behind the Iron Curtain. The shooting down of Gary Powers in the U-2 incident of 1960 disastrously escalated tensions between the US and USSR. And two years later, another U-2 was shot down over Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, bringing the world closer than ever before on all out nuclear war.
What went wrong in these incidences, and why did the US government continue to risk so much on these U-2 missions?