Books Monographs

The CIA and the U-2 Program, 1954-1974

By Gregory W. Pedlow and Donald E. Welzenbach (1998)


This History Staff Monograph offers a comprehensive and authoritative history of the CIA’s manned overhead reconnaissance program, which from 1954 to 1974 developed and operated two extraordinary aircraft, the U-2 and the A-12 OXCART. It describes not only the program’s technological and bureaucratic aspects, but also its political and international context. The manned reconnaissance program, along with other overhead systems that emerged from it, changed the CIA’s work and structure in ways that were both revolutionary and permanent. The formation of the Directorate of Science and Technology in the 1960s, principally to develop and direct reconnaissance programs is the most obvious legacy of the events recounted in this study.

The authors tell an engrossing story. The struggle between the CIA and the US Air Force to control the U-2 and A-12 OXCART projects reveals how the manned reconnaissance program confronted problems that still beset successor programs today.

(This book is a partially redacted version of the classified original, which was published in 1992.)