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Lockheed, USAF partner to complete U-2 avionics upgrade

Aerospace prime Lockheed Martin and the US Air Force have partnered for the first flight of the U-2 Dragon Lady’s Avionics Tech Refresh program.

Aerospace prime Lockheed Martin and the US Air Force have partnered for the first flight of the U-2 Dragon Lady’s Avionics Tech Refresh program.

Following the launch, the aircraft was able to successfully perform a low-altitude functional check flight to integrate new avionics, cabling, and software.

The Avionics Tech Refresh (ATR) program features a modernisation of the U-2’s onboard systems including updated avionics suite with communications, navigation and display, a modern cockpit with enhanced presentation of data, as well as a new mission computer designed to integrate with systems across air, space, sea, land, and cyber domains.

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Sean Thatcher, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works U-2 Avionics Tech Refresh program manager, said the ATR first flight marks a milestone in U-2’s modernisation efforts and its path to be the first fully open mission systems-compliant fleet.

“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,” Thatcher said.

“Leveraging the platform’s open architecture, we’re expediting these capabilities needed for the future Joint All-Domain Operations battlespace.”

Further testing will solidify a mature software baseline before mission systems are introduced to ensure both functionality and interoperability to meet operational needs, he said.

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

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