The iconic U-2 spy plane debuted in 1955, and it’s still deployable thanks to a meticulous inspection called the Programmed Depot Maintenance every 4,700 flight hours.
This incredibly complex process requires technicians to disassemble and strip the paint off the entire plane to analyze every part and make repairs. Over 1,800 individual parts are removed and revised and 40,000 rivets inspected. After completion, the aircraft is reassembled and repainted before returning to the flight line.
For a plane that’s flown over the Soviet Union, Cuba, Korea and other places around the world since its secret introduction to the inventory, it has proven its worth. The Air Force keeps 33 of them on standby and plans to keep it flying until at least 2019.
This time lapse video from Sploid shows the entire process in under two minutes: