March 25 (UPI) -- Raytheon signed a $320 million undefinitized contract to develop new version of the Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar that flies on the U-2 Dragon Lady aircraft.
Raytheon announced on Monday the the ASARS-2B doubles the surveillance range while maintaining the mapping and imagery resolution of the current ASARS-2A system for U.S. Air Force.
ASARS-2B completed a flight test at Edwards Air Force Base in California earlier this year, the company said in a press release.
Raytheon's Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar System was developed in the early 1980s.
"ASARS-2B allows the Dragon Lady to see further than ever before," said Eric Ditmars, vice president of Raytheon Secure Sensor Solutions. "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-2B'shigh-resolution, multimode, long-range, air-to-ground radar can provide critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data. ASARS detects and precisely locates fixed and moving targets on the ground in all kinds of weather, the company said.
The U-2 modularity allows the aircraft to adapt to different mission needs and "respond to emerging threats anywhere, anytime," according to Lockheed Martin.
With a range of 3,000 miles, it can carry up to 700 pounds of the latest photoreconnaissance equipment to altitude of 70,000 feet.
Built from the profile of a traditional sailplane with a long-tapered wing, the plane was designed in the mid-1950s as reconnaissance on Soviet military activity.
On July 4, 1956, Hervey Stockman flew a U-2 from Wiesbaden, West Germany, deep into the heart of the Soviet Union to detailed photos of airfields, factories and shipyards not possible by other aircraft.