Lockheed Martin Conducted First Flight a New U-2 With Avionics Tech Refresh

U-2 ISR aircraft - Illustrative photo from open sources
U-2 ISR aircraft - Illustrative photo from open sources

According to Lockheed Martin press relleas the successful first flight tested the new advanced capabilities aboard the U-2 as part of the ATR contract, including:

An updated avionics suite (communications, navigation, display, etc.) that modernises the U-2’s onboard systems to readily accept and use new technology.

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A new mission computer designed for the U.S. Air Force’s open mission systems (OMS) standard that enables the U-2 to integrate with systems across air, space, sea, land and cyber domains at disparate security levels.

New modern cockpit displays to make pilot tasks easier, while enhancing the presentation of the data the aircraft collects to enable faster, better-informed decisions.

During this mission, the aircraft successfully performed a low-altitude functional check flight to integrate new avionics, cabling and software.

“The successful first flight of the U-2 Avionics Tech Refresh is a significant moment in our journey to rapidly and affordably field new capabilities,” said Sean Thatcher, U-2 Avionics Tech Refresh program manager at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. “Leveraging the platform’s open architecture, we’re expediting these capabilities needed for the future Joint All-Domain Operations battlespace.”

The ATR’s first flight marks a milestone in the U-2’s modernisation efforts and its path to becoming the first fully OMS-compliant fleet. Further testing will solidify a mature software baseline before mission systems are introduced to ensure both functionality and interoperability to meet operational needs.

The U-2 ATR contract was awarded by the U.S. Air Force in 2020 and valued at $50 million

The U-2S Dragon Lady is an agile and reliable high-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft that flies 24/7/365 to ensure global security with unparalleled performance.

This proven ISR track record paired with technological flexibility positions the U-2 as the optimum platform to rapidly field new payload capabilities, given its demonstrated open architecture and superior size, weight, power and cooling (SWAP-C) capacity. These key attributes, in addition to its modern Open Mission Systems (OMS) compliant avionics suite, make the U-2 the platform of choice to demonstrate new capabilities faster and more cost-effectively for a Joint All-Domain Operations vision.

The future fight is all about data – getting the right information to the right person at the right time. The Quantum Leap U-2 is effectively positioned to rapidly collect, process and share data across integrated networks that include legacy and 5th-generation platforms.

By using machine-to-machine processing to dramatically reduce the data to decision timeline, the U-2 can communicate securely and simultaneously at all tactical, operational and strategic levels across multiple domains. Additionally, the Avionics Tech Refresh expedites battlespace capabilities needed for the future, making the U-2 the first fully OMS-compliant fleet, providing the ability to plug-and-play new capabilities quickly and affordably to support future battlespace operations.

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