Raytheon to support U-2 ASARS-2A radar systems

The US Air Force (USAF) has contracted Raytheon to support the Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar System-2A (ASARS-2A) employed by the Lockheed U-2S Dragon Lady high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft.

Raytheon was awarded an indefinite-delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract, worth US$217m, to support and sustain the sensor and processor for the ASARS-2A platform. The company will perform the contracted work until 2024.

u-2s [Khalem Chapman]
A USAF Lockheed U-2S Dragon Lady, registration 80-1067, operated by the 99th Reconnaissance Squadron, lines up to depart RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire in July 2017. Khalem Chapman

The ASARS-2A system provides the U-2S with a long-range, high-resolution intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability across large areas. The sensor can detect both moving and stationary targets using its ground moving-target indicator and search and spot modes. The ASARS-2A's onboard processing system provides almost real time, precise target location data. The system doesn't rely on a ground station to process the targeting, which allows decision makers to respond faster to developing situations.

Chad Pillsbury, director at Raytheon Secure Sensor Solutions, said: "With ASARS-2A, the Air Force can detect ground targets day or night, no matter the weather condition... It's reliable. The air force just completed ASARS-2A's 9,000th tactical mission in Korea this year."

In March 2019, the USAF awarded a US$320m contract to Raytheon for the development of a new version of the ASARS to be employed on the 'Dragon Lady'. The system - dubbed ASARS-2B - will feature an active electronically-scanned array (AESA) antenna, which will effectively double the range of the platform in comparison to the current system. However, the ASARS-2B will still employ the image and mapping resolution of its predecessor. The system successfully completed its first flight at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB), California, in early 2019.