Tesla Model S Helps Launch Spy Planes At Royal Air Force Base – Video

Tesla Model S


The Tesla Model S accelerates quicker than any other production vehicle, which makes it a prime choice for chasing spy planes.

The Lockheed U-2S “Spy Plane” is one of the toughest planes to operate. It’s especially hard to take off and land in the 1950’s classic, due to its minimal visibility. A trained team must be present to aid the vehicle’s ascent, and a chase car is the preferred method of assistance.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S chase car at Royal Air Force

A chase car must be fast and the quicker it can get up to speed is critical in appropriately assisting the U-2S. The Tesla Model S can sprint from a standstill to 60 mph in less than 2.5 seconds, and its acceleration is instant and seamless because of its pure electric drivetrain. There are many cars that can top out at higher speeds, and have more power top-end power, but the Model S’ top speed of 155 mph, and its initial burst of power are ideal for the job.

According to Electrek, Jalopnik featured a story about the U.S. Air Force’s use of a Camaro Z28 for this same purpose in the past. However, the Camaro is known for its lack of visibility, which is the same problem that the plane has, and the Model S provides an unparalleled view of the road ahead. The Tesla in the video looks like it has the all glass roof option, which would prove even more helpful when assisting the spy plane. Jalopnik wrote (via Electrek):

“The process is pretty simple: The Air Force buys fast and relatively inexpensive Detroit muscle and puts a highly trained pilot in the driver’s seat. Those pilots then act as ground-based wingmen for the U-2s in the air, talking them through runway operations.”

Elliot Langran encountered and filmed the above video showing the successful launch of a U2-S at Royal Air Force Fairford Air Base.

Video Description via ElliotL- CBGSpotterHD on YouTube:

The Lockheed U-2S “Spy Plane”! Dating to the early 1950’s and still in active service with the USAF in 2017. We see two example’s departing RAF Fairford in true dramatic style.. These things climb like rockets. I zoomed right in on the pre-flight checks by the chase cars (Tesla Model S), please watch carefully as the wingtip wheels trop of on rotate! 

Source: Electrek

Categories: Tesla, Videos


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8 Comments on "Tesla Model S Helps Launch Spy Planes At Royal Air Force Base – Video"

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This has my vote for coolest EV story of the year, bar none.

The Camaro can do 190 mph and the Tesla can only do 155, but that’s not a problem as the U-2 takes off at only 115 mph.

It started moving at 1:54 and a wheel lift at 2:10. If that speed is 115 MPH, that’s 16 seconds. That seems way too slow of an acceleration to require a Tesla when much cheaper gasser would do.

In the video pointed by Birger below, the chase car looks like some econobox Pontiac sedan.

It’s unfortunate Bolt’s top speed is limited to 90 MPH; even Bolt may keep up with U2 if not for top speed limit.

Well, I think in that shot we had a little balance/taxi-action first, you did need some serious zip when the pane punches it. But as for the car, as noted in the story – that is indeed cheap Detroit muscle. Probably the most famous “cheap” muscle car one can buy from the last decade.

Specifically a Pontiac GTO GT, a fast RWD V8 sedan from Pontiac. It was only available in the US about 18 months or so from 2008 (before Pontiac was closed) and was a export from Holden in Australia (the Commodore). It arrived just as the market was falling apart, and really was an odd offering for Pontiac…even when new dealers had to give massive discounts to clear them out, as the auto/housing market was pretty bad.

The G8 GT had a 6.0 V8 with 360 hp (also came as a GXP with the Corvette’s LS3 ~415 hp..but only in manual, which obv would not be good as a chase plance). 60 mph times were 4.5 to 5.3 seconds.

The wings droop so much that the plane needs wheels in mid-wing to hold them up off the ground; wheels which drop off as the wings rise.

So what happens when it lands? Does the RAF just accept the fact it will have to replace the wingtips every time it lands?

Maybe fuel tanks are in the wings such that full tanks cause the wings to droop whereas empty tanks, not so much.

Basically lands on the two center wheels, slows down and tips over. Amazing.

Impressive plane!