The Dragon Lady is getting an upgrade!

Lockheed Martin recently secured a $50 million US Air Force contract to update the venerable U-2 spy plane.

The project involves three elements: a new avionics suite, a new mission computer, and modern cockpit displays, says Lockheed

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.Designed to the new USAF open mission systems (OMS) standard, the new mission computer will allow the aircraft to integrate “with systems across air, space, sea, land and cyber domains at disparate security levels.”

“As a proven, agile and reliable aircraft, the U-2S is the most capable high-altitude ISR system in the fleet today,” says Lockheed’s U-2 program director, Irene Helley. “The Avionics Tech Refresh contract will continue our commitment of providing a premier aircraft to our warfighters, ensuring global security now and into the future.”

The work will see the U-2 be the USAF’s first OMS-compliant fleet. Lockheed expects interim field to start in mid-2021, with fleet modification to follow in early 2022.

Cirium fleets data shows that the USAF has 30 in-service U-2S aircraft, while NASA operates two examples. The average age of the overall fleet is 36.6 years.

The Lockheed announcement follows a string of recent news involving the U-2, a type that first flew in 1955. In February Lockheed announced that the fleet had completed flight testing and installation of the Collins Aerospace Senior Year Electro-Optical Reconnaissance System (SYERS-2C).

This provides improved tracking of both stationary and moving targets in a wider range of weather conditions.

In 2019 an F-35 fighter, U-2 and a ground station demonstrated a capability to shorten the decision loop involved in detecting and acting upon a long-range missile launch.

In the demonstration, called Project Riot, an F-35 detected a long-range missile launch with its on-board sensors. Via the U-2, it shared the information with the air defense commander on the ground, enabling the commander to quickly make the decision to target the threat.

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Okay in all seriousness, really?

Like the U-2 is old. Like almost 50 years old. I still don’t understand when we can have more advanced and faster aircraft rolling recon. Not to mention stealth technology. Like, the U-2 has been proven to be capable of being downed. Just look at the incident where the Soviets shot one down. I really don’t know why the Dragon Lady needs it. Her run is over with 5th generation in my opinion. However, if the Air Force sees her as capable then let her fly.

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The C-130 is old and we still produce it. Sure while there has been a few shot down it’s mission and cost affectiveness operation is pretty awesome to the Air Froce

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That is true, however, I just find it impractical. I mean the effort just to land the thing. Its like a balance beam.

The C-130 is a special case because it has the ability to land and take off on extremely short runways unlike other cargo aircraft. Second, it is capable of essentially attack diving the thing in for a landing, and can be pushed hard. It also has a massive MTOW. It can also be retrofitted to make it an attack aircraft as well. Finally, it is maneuverable and not outclassed in it’s field.

What ISR aircraft outclasses the U2?

The SR-71. Also a billion times faster.

A non retired ISR aircrfat

Well we can get into UAV if you want.

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Sure we can do that, the U2 has the ability carry more cool guy toys while the let’s say RQ4 cannot according to the US. The U2 has a payload if 5000lbs whole the RQ4 has a 3000, the U2 also has more internal space and bay options. The Global Hawk also cannot fly in bad weather since it lacks deicing and lightening protection. Plus the Pilots can’t see the storms they’re about to fly through in front of the aircraft while a pilot can, and the U2 has a 96% success rate while the RQ4 has a 55% The RQ4it also flies lower while the U2 is higher.

And the X-47?

The program retired about six years ago

Alright you win. Still though, I find it impractical as they want to take the blasted F-35 and make a recon version of it.

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