The US Air Force (USAF) has concluded flight testing and deployment of the upgraded version of the Collins Aerospace Senior Year Electro-Optical Reconnaissance System (SYERS) sensor, SYERS-2C, on the U-2 Dragon Lady reconnaissance aircraft.

With the completion of testing by the airforce, along with partners Collins Aerospace Systems and Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, the complete fleet of U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft has been upgraded to the premier electro-optical / infrared sensor capability.

The capability provides increased optical performance, as well as accurate long-range tracking for threat detection in different weather conditions.

Collins Aerospace ISR and Space Solutions vice-president and general manager Kevin Raftery said: “SYERS-2C represents an evolutionary step forward for the airforce, capitalising on a high performing, mature system to insert substantial new capabilities into the battlespace of the future.

“The U-2 has been the cornerstone of the airforce’s ISR inventory and with upgrades like SYERS-2C, the system can continue to provide increasingly valuable multi-intelligence information to the warfighter for years to come.”

The ten-band, high-spatial-resolution SYERS-2C sensor has been developed with open mission systems standards and enables the identification, tracking and assessment of moving and stationary targets.

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The SYERS-2C can enable command, control and data exchange with fifth-generation platforms and is expected to bring unique advantages to joint operations across the battlespace.

Lockheed Martin Skunk Works U-2 programme director Irene Helley said: “The SYERS-2C sensor is the premier intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance imaging sensor and its integration into the U-2 Dragon Lady further enhances the aircraft’s ability to provide unparalleled strategic intelligence to our warfighters.

“This milestone continues our commitment to increasing the flexibility of the aircraft using open mission systems to support the multi-domain battlespace.”

The U-2 aircraft provides intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability for combatant commanders and can reconfigure, collect, analyse and share data with disparate systems across the battlespace.

Last December, Raytheon secured a contract from the USAF to support the radar system carried on the U-2 aircraft.