U-2 Dragon Lady
U-2 Dragon Lady
The U-2S is the most capable and reliable high-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platform compared to any system flying today – manned or unmanned. While early models of the U-2 began service in the mid-1950s, production of today’s U-2S fleet was completed in the late 1980s, and is capable of delivering unparalleled performance beyond 2050 as the next generation of an American icon.
Over the last 10 years, the U-2S underwent a complete technology rebuild, further improving its performance and mission capability.
The U-2S is reliable, responsive and survivable, delivering an average 97 percent mission success rate; open architecture and modular payload capabilities, enabling new or unique sensors without customizing the aircraft or removing it from the fleet; and, the ability for field commanders to readily tailor sensors to the mission. The U-2S can dynamically task sensors within seconds to collect on emergent, time-critical targets, and supports global security requirements in all weather conditions – day or night.
Additionally, a highly capable defensive suite enables the aircraft to survive sneak attacks and remain engaged during rapidly escalating hostilities or continue its mission during times when the presence of a threat is known or suspected, but not yet located.
Lockheed Martin Skunk Works® has a long tradition of rapidly bringing innovative capabilities to the warfighter, and continues that tradition with our open system architecture work. Project Missouri and U-2 open mission systems flight tests, including a recent unprecedented sixth flight demonstrate the power of our Enterprise Open Architecture approach to make the Air Force Open Mission System (OMS) vision reality. Lockheed Martin has accomplished many firsts in the industry. Here are the facts.
The U-2 modular payload capability, proven airframe performance and state-of-the-art equipment interfaces allow Lockheed Martin to integrate new mission capability rapidly and affordably. As part of a longstanding partnership with the U.S. Air Force, Lockheed Martin provides critical sustainment services in Engineering, Modification, Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MMRO), Technical Publications, Logistics, and Field Service to the U.S. government in support of 24/7 operations 365 days a year.
To ensure the capabilities of the Dragon Lady are maintained for the future, Lockheed Martin performs Programmed Depot Maintenance for the U-2 every seven years or 4,800 flight hours. Additionally, a thorough Lockheed Martin controlled interval extension program for maintenance activities continues to enhance the affordability of the U-2S. As part of Lockheed Martin’s commitment to U-2 sustainment, the aircraft’s engine maintenance, repair and overhaul are performed by Lockheed Martin Commercial Engine Solutions.
Lockheed Martin Skunk Works roadmaps identify a future gap in ISR capabilities, and while today’s mixed fleet of ISR platforms come the closest to fulfilling needs, neither are fully capable in future wartime scenarios. There is a need to fill that gap with a true next-gen ISR platform, and Skunk Works envisions that platform as the TR-X, a stealthy, agile, Open Mission System-compliant aircraft that can reach the optimal altitude of 70,000 feet with the ability to run sensors even more powerful than today’s U-2S.
The most cost-effective path toward a next-gen ISR platform is to continue the operation of today’s mixed fleet until a next-gen platform is competed, operational and able to host best-of-breed sensors from both of today’s high-altitude platforms. This enables continued improvement in sensor capabilities that are so critical to the warfighter, along with a seamless transition when it comes time to cross-load these sensors to the new platform.