NATIONAL HARBOR, MD–The U.S. Air Force is undertaking significant upgrades for its U-2 Dragon Lady high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft at Lockheed Martin‘s [LMT] Skunk Works facility, including installation of the Raytheon [RTN] Advanced Synthetic Aperture System-2B radar with a moving target indicator capability and open mission systems.

The range of the ASARS-2B radar is nearly double that of the previous ASARS-2A radar, Mark Cole, director of business development for Lockheed Martin ISR programs, said during an interview this week at the Air Force Association annual conference here. The radar is to complement the upgraded 2C version of the UTC Aerospace Systems [UTX] Senior Year Electro-Optical Reconnaissance System (SYERS) multispectral imaging sensor. Cole said that the evolving capabilities of the U-2 mark a dramatic difference from the 1990s when he was a U-2 pilot.

Operation Enduring Freedom in 2002 marked the combat debut of the U-2 Extended Tether Program, which allows military users to access imagery remotely from the U-2.

“With open mission systems, we can get the information to the user or back to the intel analyst faster,” Cole said.

Lockheed Martin is also testing the move of the U-2’s signals intelligence capability from two aircraft pods to one to free up the open mission systems capability on one pod.

The Air Force is supporting the move to a “common message set” and the service’s Rapid Capabilities Office has advocated the move to an open mission systems architecture.