Scouts U-2 received a new optoelectronic complex


U-2S Scout In Flight


The Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance aircraft entered service with the United States in the second half of the fifties, but it still remains in service. Such longevity in the service is provided by timely repairs and upgrades. Recently, regular activities have been completed to improve old aircraft. The U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin equipped them with the modern intelligence system SYERS-2C.

The latest news


On February 18, the Lockheed Martin press service announced the completion of work on one of the main projects of recent times. The company, in cooperation with the Air Force and the company Collins Aerospace (part of United Technologies Copr.) Completed development work on the modernization of U-2 aircraft, as well as carried out all the necessary tests. In addition, the optoelectronic systems have been modernized to the SYERS-2C state in the entire fleet of reconnaissance aircraft.

Project participants highly appreciate the results of the work done. So, Collins vice president Kevin Rafteri recalled that U-2s are the cornerstone of US Air Force reconnaissance, and also noted that with the SYERS-2C complex this aircraft will be able to provide more valuable information for many years.

Irene Helly, director of U-2 at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, claims the SYERS-2C provides the aircraft with unprecedented data collection capabilities for the military. Due to this, the intelligence operation will increase its potential in modern warfare.

Old airplanes


As follows from open data, work on the next U-2 aircraft modernization project has been carried out since 2014 by a number of organizations, namely the developer of the aircraft itself and the creator of new equipment for it. The project was implemented under the supervision of the relevant Air Force authorities.


Complex SYERS-2A. Left - optoelectronic suspension unit

A joint project of several organizations provided for the repair and extension of the life of existing reconnaissance aircraft with the simultaneous installation of new equipment. Due to this, the U-2 will be able to remain in service, at least until the next major overhaul and at the same time solve their main tasks at the modern level.

Despite their considerable age, U-2 aircraft retain very high flight and technical characteristics necessary to solve their characteristic tasks. Aircraft were repeatedly modernized, incl. with the replacement of engines, which allows them to remain a successful and efficient platform for the target equipment. It is for this reason that they decided to install the modern SYERS-2C complex on U-2. However, similar products have been developed for installation on other aircraft and UAVs.

New equipment


The main element of the modernization program is updating the intelligence system SYERS-2 (Senior Year Electro Optical Reconnaissance System) for the latest project with the letter "C". The updated version of the complex differs from the basic application of new technologies and higher characteristics.

The complex includes several systems for various purposes: a block of optoelectronic equipment, computing equipment and communications for data exchange. All devices of the complex are assembled into a single unit for installation in the bow of a carrier aircraft. This unit has a length of less than 1,8 m and a diameter of less than 770 mm. Weight - approx. 250 kg Using various cables and connectors, the SYERS-2C complex is integrated into the electrical and electronic networks of the aircraft.


Demonstration of the possibilities of multispectral optics - an advertising booklet of the SYERS-2A complex

The basis of the complex is a mobile multispectral optoelectronic station on a gyro-stabilized platform. Optics simultaneously operates in 10 ranges of the spectrum, including the visible and different parts of the infrared. For comparison, the complex of the previous version of SYERS-2A worked only in seven. Simultaneous shooting in different ranges provides effective reconnaissance at any time of the day and under different weather conditions. Comparison of several images allows you to create a more detailed picture and identify objects that are invisible when reconnaissance in the same range.

Data from the optoelectronic system can be recorded on-board equipment from the complex or transferred to other users. First of all, the data will be transmitted to the headquarters or to the detection and control aircraft. Full compatibility with communication systems and control of fighters of the last 5 generation is provided. All this simplifies the practical use of intelligence results.

Limited edition


Lockheed Martin reports that so far all development work has been completed and even the deployment of new systems has been completed. As follows from open data, the production and installation of intelligence systems did not take much time - due to the limited requirements of the Air Force.

According to open data, only two reconnaissance squadrons equipped with U-2 aircraft remain in the US Air Force. There are 27 U-2S cars in service and only 4 TU-2S trainers. To solve real reconnaissance tasks, only U-2S aircraft are used, carrying a complete set of target equipment.


The amount of such equipment allows us to imagine how many SYERS-2C systems were produced by Collins, and how many modernized airplanes received the air force. Apparently, the contractor provided no more than 25-30 SYERS-2C systems for mounting on aircraft and for stockpiling. Also required the supply of spare parts.

Disputes about the future


The U-2S aircraft with the upgraded SYERS-2C complex receives the highest ratings and it is argued that such an update will have a positive effect on reconnaissance. However last news about the modernization appeared against the background of other reports - not the most optimistic in nature.

Production of the U-2 completed in approx. 30 years ago, and the available equipment is not very young. Permanent repairs allow you to extend the resource, but do not solve the problem as a whole. Over the past few years, the Pentagon has been discussing the future abandonment of such equipment in view of the impossibility and inappropriateness of its further operation.

On February 10, Air Force Magazine announced that the Air Force plans to continue repairing and maintaining the state of the U-2021 fleet in fiscal years 24-2. For these purposes, you will have to spend 77 million dollars. However, already in 2025, such processes will cease. Accordingly, starting from 2025, scouts will be decommissioned as the resource is depleted.


The next day, the Air Force press service said that these data were not true. Both in 2021-24 and in 2025, the costs of maintaining and upgrading the aircraft are assumed - they are not going to abandon the U-2 yet. Lockheed Martin, an aircraft support company, is trying to sort things out and refrains from commenting.

Several years in advance


Amid these events, the Air Force and two defense industry companies completed the modernization of reconnaissance aircraft with the installation of modern equipment. This will not only ensure continued operation, but also increase its effectiveness. In such a situation, decommissioning of aircraft in 2025 does not look like a reasonable step - the Air Force will have only a few years to take advantage of new opportunities.

The debate about the future of the U-2 aircraft seems to be ongoing, and the Pentagon has not yet formed precise plans of this kind. This means that the scouts are still in service and can use the latest SYERS-2C complex. Thus, despite all the difficulties and problems, the Air Force provided itself with modern reconnaissance equipment for several years in advance - until the fate of the aircraft is decided.
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Photos used:
Lockheed Martin, Collins Aerospace / UTC
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  1. svp67 25 February 2020 18: 08 New
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    and in 2025, the costs of maintaining and upgrading the aircraft are assumed - they are not going to abandon the U-2 yet.
    And most importantly, why they do not call them "mothballs"? And ... it’s only you can call Russian planes, yours is "not comme il faut"
    1. Starover_Z 25 February 2020 19: 21 New
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      Quote: svp67
      and in 2025, the costs of maintaining and upgrading the aircraft are assumed - they are not going to abandon the U-2 yet.
      And most importantly, why they do not call them "mothballs"? And ... it’s only you can call Russian planes, yours is "not comme il faut"

      They updated, pretty, okay, their problems. And over whom should they fly, where can they conduct air reconnaissance with impunity? Over Afghanistan?
      1. Mavrikiy 25 February 2020 19: 47 New
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        Quote: Starover_Z
        They updated, pretty, okay, their problems. And over whom should they fly, where can they conduct air reconnaissance with impunity? Over Afghanistan?

        Yes everywhere, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, Armenia, Belarus, Central Asia, where we go. Who will knock down? request There is an "Open Sky" above Russia repeat Fly, I don’t want without the U-2.
        1. Observer2014 25 February 2020 21: 35 New
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          Quote: Mavrikiy
          Quote: Starover_Z
          They updated, pretty, okay, their problems. And over whom should they fly, where can they conduct air reconnaissance with impunity? Over Afghanistan?

          Yes everywhere, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, Armenia, Belarus, Central Asia, where we go. Who will knock down? request There is an "Open Sky" above Russia repeat Fly, I don’t want without the U-2.

          Well, and to whom did you try to tell?
          1. Mavrikiy 26 February 2020 00: 55 New
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            Quote: Observer2014
            Well, and to whom did you try to tell?

            Asks smart questions .... negative
        2. tima_ga 25 February 2020 22: 33 New
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          Over the territory of the countries of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, flying a little ...
  2. Operator 25 February 2020 18: 19 New
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    Shaw, did the printing press break down and the bucks for the new UAVs are already missing? laughing
    1. Evgeny Goncharov (smoogg) 26 February 2020 00: 03 New
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      They dropped everything on the hundred-megaton bombs.
  3. rocket757 25 February 2020 18: 25 New
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    Yankee intelligence, including Aerial give serious importance, not in vain!
    1. Observer2014 25 February 2020 21: 37 New
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      Quote: rocket757
      Yankee intelligence, including Aerial give serious importance, not in vain!

      yes Aha. Well and further what? Well, what or by what comment will move this situation from the spot?
      1. rocket757 25 February 2020 21: 52 New
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        Ha, ha, move, work At US, on this subject, those who should ...
        Did you have to write? Shaw, is everything bad, bad and even worse? So this will be empty chatter, just.
  4. aranzon1913 25 February 2020 18: 29 New
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    Launch Powers
  5. Klingon 25 February 2020 19: 33 New
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    useless waste of resources and dough, upgrade this stuff when any drone today can do the same job in automatic mode
    1. The leader of the Redskins 25 February 2020 19: 42 New
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      Your opinion is wrong. The USAF already tried to remove it from service a couple of decades ago, but it turned out that there was nothing to replace it ... with anything! Neither satellites nor drones can block some of the capabilities of this aircraft.
      1. rocket757 25 February 2020 21: 55 New
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        Normal, integrated approach. Why refuse a complex that optimally performs the tasks?
  6. Prisoner 25 February 2020 19: 40 New
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    Say hello to Paures. Although ... Well, you understand me.
  7. tima_ga 25 February 2020 22: 37 New
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    Flying over the territory of a serious enemy is not safe, at least in peacetime, and for an enemy it’s easier and heavy UAVs are suitable, especially since the hour of their flight is clearly cheaper. But, apparently, U2 was left to solve special and complex tasks as special forces.
    1. dauria 26 February 2020 09: 19 New
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      , U2 left for the solution of special and complex tasks as special forces.

      His task is simple and clear from the time of the Warsaw Pact - to fly either along the border or in the tactical depth of the front from his side (200 km from the line) under the cover of his air defense and aviation. And not alone, but a bunch of 3 pieces. Day and night. In the early 80s, they were even renamed TR-1 for some reason.
      It is interesting that our Yak-25rv (it was such, and in a decent series of one and a half hundred pieces) took them out on the ceiling, had a cannon against balloons and was not so capricious and greenhouse to take-off conditions. True, at a half distance less. Myasischevsky M-17, created later turned out to be no better than the "simple" Yakovlev machine.
      1. Bad_gr 28 February 2020 13: 14 New
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        M-17RM
        Quote: dauria
        Myasischevsky M-17, created later turned out to be no better than the "simple" Yakovlev machine.

        And what does the M-17 not suit you? Unlike U-2, a full-fledged aircraft that was able to carry weapons and use it at those heights. C U-2 was the case when, due to disturbances from an airplane flying nearby, it just fell apart, since there is almost no margin of safety, and nowhere to make it easier to reach a high ceiling.
        The development of the M-17 became the M-17RM, which was later renamed the M-55 Geophysics. And if we compare U-2 with it in this way, and not with the first breakdown.
        1. dauria 28 February 2020 13: 24 New
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          And what does the M-17 not suit you?

          It suits everyone. In addition to range and small series. And the fact that the Yak-25RV reached the parameters of U-2, was built in a large series of 150 pieces with more than one, and the M-17 and M-55, which appeared later did not surpass it. That is why it was abandoned as "not too good" in the amount of 3 - 5 pieces.
          1. Bad_gr 28 February 2020 18: 57 New
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            Quote: dauria
            And the fact that the Yak-25RV reached the parameters of U-2, was built in a large series of 150 pieces with more than one, and the M-17 and M-55, which appeared later did not surpass it.

            That the big series agrees, but with respect to the performance characteristics it’s not so simple:
            [Center]
            Yak-25RV:
            Maximum speed
            at the ground 500 km / h
            at an altitude of 870 km / h (M = 0.82)
            Practical range 3500 km
            Ceiling 20500 m

            M-55 "Geophysics"
            • Maximum speed:
            ◦ at an altitude of 20000 m: 743 km / h
            ◦ at an altitude of 5000 m: 332 km / h
            • Cruising speed: 0,7 M
            ◦ maximum ceiling range:
            ◦ (from a height of 20250 m to 20620 m) 1315 km
            ◦ maximum range of 17000 m: 5000 km
            • Practical ceiling: 21550 m
            1. dauria 29 February 2020 00: 32 New
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              here on TTX not everything is so simple:

              He was simply abandoned and did not begin to be modified at that time. Considered unnecessary. Time was like that - the main thing is rockets.

              August 5, 1961 D.F. Ustinov:

              "On your instructions of April 21, 1961, according to the report of Biryuzov and Vershinin, we considered the question of creating a special complex based on the Yak-25RV aircraft for hitting automatic balloons at altitudes up to 25 km.

              ... such a complex based on the Yak-25RV aircraft with cannon armament and the existing R11V-300 engine can be created to destroy balloons only to an altitude of 23-24 km.

              To increase the height of the aerostat hit to 25-28 km, it is necessary to increase engine thrust, reduce its weight and ensure its stable operation at altitudes up to 25 km. This improvement in engine performance can be achieved by creating a new engine. "