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Russia Resumes Operations of High-Altitude Reconnaissance Aircraft “M-55 Geofizika”

Although the idea behind the development of Russia's high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft existed in the 1960s, the M-55 "Geofizika" only began its flights around the 1980s, with its primary mission assigned to spy on the launches of missiles by Western countries.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — Russia is reported to have reinstated the operation of a high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft from the Soviet Union era called the “M-55 Geofizika” (NATO codename – Mystic B) after suspending its service in 2017.

The Russian high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft “M-55 Geofizika” is said to have capabilities similar to the American U-2 “Dragon Lady.”

The Soviet Union is said to have only built five M-55 “Geofizika” aircraft.

Local defense analysts state that the high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft has resumed operations from the Ramenskoe airfield near Moscow, but its actual mission remains a mystery to observers.

Although the idea behind the development of Russia’s high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft dates back to the 1960s, the M-55 “Geofizika” only began flying around the 1980s to spy on the launches of guided missiles by Western countries.

Geo Fizika

The aircraft continued its mission of monitoring enemy guided missile launches to gather intelligence until the fall of the Soviet Union, causing the role of the reconnaissance aircraft to become uncertain.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia used the high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft M-55 “Geofizika” for civilian purposes, including conducting research on the stratosphere between Russia and its European neighboring countries.

It performed these civilian scientific tasks until 2017 when its service was suspended due to a lack of necessary scientific work for the aircraft.

However, military analysts suggest that the return of the M-55 “Geofizika” to active service may be due to two factors: testing sensitive equipment for the Russian Air Force or returning to its original mission of monitoring launches of guided missiles by Russia’s “enemies.”

Regarding the specifications of the high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft, the M-55 “Geofizika” has a total length of 22.6 meters and a wingspan of 37 meters.

M-55 Geofizika
M-55 Geofizika
U-2
U-2 “Dragon Lady”

 

The Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of the reconnaissance aircraft with a single pilot is 23 tons.

The maximum speed of the reconnaissance aircraft is 743 km/h, and the maximum altitude it can reach is 21.5 km.

The operational radius of the Russian high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft is 4,900 km, allowing it to stay in the air for up to 6.5 hours before needing to return to base for refueling.  — DSA

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