USAF Conducts First Flight of Upgraded U-2 Dragon Lady Spy Plane

The US Air Force has conducted its first flight of its U-2 Dragon Lady spy aircraft after undergoing a major avionics upgrade.

According to Lockheed Martin, the Cold War-era warplane received a state-of-the-art avionics suite, which includes modern computers to facilitate easy integration with other systems across air, space, sea, land, and cyber domains.

It also boasts advanced communication systems and cockpit displays to reduce pilot workload and enable faster, better-informed decisions.

Lockheed Martin said that the recent flight test was a low-altitude functional check flight to assess the aircraft’s new avionics, cabling, and software.

Program manager Sean Thatcher described it as a “significant moment” in rapidly integrating modern, affordable capabilities.

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

About the U-2 Dragon Lady

Lockheed’s U-2 is an all-weather aircraft capable of supporting intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions.

It was designed to deliver critical imagery and signals intelligence to military commanders for faster and improved decision-making.

Flying at altitudes of over 70,000 feet (21,336 meters), U-2 pilots are required to wear a full pressure suit similar to those worn by astronauts.

Apart from its modern avionics, the aircraft has an electro-optical infrared camera, optical bar camera, and an advanced synthetic aperture radar.

“An enhanced defensive suite coupled with long-range standoff sensors and on-board processing enables the U-2 to operate in and around contested areas while rapidly enabling 4th and 5th generation platforms to share data across domains,” Lockheed stated on its website.

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