Raytheon has received a $320m undefined contract from the US Air Force (USAF) to develop a version of the advanced synthetic aperture radar (ASARS-2B) for the U-2 Dragon Lady reconnaissance aircraft.

ASARS-2B contains an active electronically scanned array antenna and is designed to double the surveillance range of the U-2 aircraft.

The advanced radar also maintains the mapping and imagery resolution of the existing ASARS-2A system.

Raytheon secure sensor solutions vice-president Eric Ditmars said: “ASARS-2B allows the Dragon Lady to see further than ever before. That 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.”

ASARS-2A is a high-resolution, multimode, long-range, air-to-ground radar that can support all-weather operations during day or night.

“Earlier this year, ASARS-2B was put through flight tests at Edwards Air Force Base in California, US.”

The radar provides operators with critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data and has the ability to detect and accurately locate fixed and moving ground targets with precision.

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Raytheon is developing the ASARS-2B as the newest iteration of the current radar system.

Earlier this year, ASARS-2B was put through flight tests at Edwards Air Force Base in California, US.

The proposed radar will use active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar technology and support both land and sea missions.

It is expected to offer increased detection range and improved image quality.

Developed by Lockheed Martin, the U-2 aircraft is used to carry out round-the-clock surveillance in all weathers. The aircraft gathers surveillance and signals intelligence data in real time.

Powered by the General Electric F118-GE-101 engine, the U-2 has a range of more than 3,000 miles.