Lockheed Martin Skunk Works continues to evolve the U-2 Dragon Lady to support future battlespace needs under a recent contract award from the U.S. Air Force valued at $50 million. As part of a longstanding partnership with the U.S. Air Force, Lockheed Martin provides critical sustainment services in support of the U-2S’ 24/7/365 operations. A thorough interval extension program for maintenance activities continues to enhance the affordability of the U-2S throughout its life cycle.
The contract includes the following upgrades to the Dragon Lady:
– An updated avionics suite that modernizes the U-2’s onboard systems to readily accept and use new technology.
– A new mission computer designed to 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 everyday pilot tasks easier while enhancing presentation of the data the aircraft collects to enable faster, better informed decisions.
The modernized multi-role aircraft coupled with long-range standoff sensors and onboard processing enables the U-2S to operate in and around contested areas with ease while rapidly enabling 4th and 5th generation systems. Its unique design and open architecture allows for the latest sensors and equipment to be added to the aircraft quickly and cost-effectively. Under this contract, Lockheed Martin will lead the design, integration and test of the new advanced aircraft components, which will enable the U-2 to be the first fully OMS-compliant fleet. Interim fielding is anticipated to begin in mid-2021, with fleet modification expected in early 2022.
The Lockheed U-2, nicknamed “Dragon Lady”, is an American single-jet engine, high altitude reconnaissance aircraft operated by the United States Air Force (USAF) and previously flown by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). It provides day and night, high-altitude (70,000 feet, 21,300 meters), all-weather intelligence gathering. . The U-2 is one of a handful of aircraft types to have served the USAF for over 50 years, along with the Boeing B-52 and Boeing KC-135. The newest models (TR-1, U-2R, U-2S) entered service in the 1980s, and the latest model, the U-2S, had a technical upgrade in 2012.