Manufacturer: Lockheed

Model: CL-1860

Name: Bright Star

Type: Observation aircraft

Date: 1973

Status: Prototype evaluation

Country: United States of America

Service: U.S. Navy

Designation: none


The Lockheed CL-1860 Bright Star was an original attempt from Lockheed to produce a naval observation type at a reduced cost using elements of the U-2 spy plane.

Though the length of the airframe was unchanged, the fin, rudders and wings were shortened (the latter being hinged for carrier use). 45% of the aircraft were taken directly from the U-2 production lines, and another 25% were modified from U-2 elements, leaving only 30% new, basically the cockpit and dorsal intake.

The Navy evaluated the sole prototype in 1973 but tests were not conclusive enough to justify procurement.


The U.S. Navy did conduct trials with two U-2 aircraft for a while. The Bright Star looks to me like a viable design, whose advantage would be a shorter wingspan making for easier storage on aircraft carriers. Being lighter than a U-2, it would be more easily deployed and operated. The dorsal fin would make more space underneath for radomes and antennae of various sorts.

This Bright Star was obtained by shortening the fin, rudders and wings of a U-2 (see picture below right), removing the side intakes and replacing them by a dorsal one. The cockpit was also recreated.

Viewers' comments:
  • I imagine this nice one escorted by F-107s with a similar dorsal intake... This would be another, different USAF... (Tophe)

My comments: