Raytheon to Upgrade Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar on USAF U-2 Aircrafts

Raytheon, under an un-definitized US Air Force contract worth $320 million, is developing a new version of the Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar that flies on the U-2 Dragon Lady aircraft. Equipped with an active electronically scanned array antenna, the ASARS-2B doubles the surveillance range while maintaining the mapping and imagery resolution of the current ASARS-2A system. The newer version completed its flight test at Edwards Air Force Base in California in early 2019.

The new ASARS-2B is a high-resolution, multimode, long-range, air-to-ground radar that provides operators with critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data. Capable of operating in all weather, day or night, ASARS detects and precisely locates fixed and moving targets on the ground. It is normally employed in a tethered mode of operation, which allows transmission of data in near real-time via data link for exploitation of the collected imagery. Operators can then share that information with commanders on the ground or assets in the air, making the ASARS a true force multiplier.

According to Eric Ditmars, Raytheon’s Vice President for Secure Sensor Solutions, the ASARS-2B will allow the Dragon Lady to see further than ever before. This kind of range is crucial for commanders to achieve decision superiority - and it ensures that the U-2 remains a preferred option for manned airborne surveillance operations.

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