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Lockheed Martin is studying a stealthy TR-X design that would incorporate the best features of the U-2, such as high-altitude flight, ISR, and rapid deployment, with the addition of optional manning, alternative payloads, and an open missions systems architecture. Lockheed Martin artist rendering.

​Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance boss Lt. Gen. Bob Otto said he hasn't discussed Lockheed Martin's proposed U-2 follow-on platform with the company but he is enthusiastic that industry is putting forward ideas. "I think it's exciting that industry is coming up with ideas on how we can modernize, so I want to encourage that, my hat's off to Lockheed," Otto said, speaking at a roundtable in Washington, D.C., Oct. 1. The next generation airborne ISR platform needs to be capable of penetrating anti-access, area-denial defenses, meaning "we're going to have to have some low-observable characteristics" as a given, said Otto. Lockheed Martin's notional TR-X incorporates low observable elements with an optionally-manned capability anticipating high-end requirements. "We want to improve upon things that we've seen with the Global Hawk—certainly we want the ability for it to be all-weather" and equipped with "exquisite sensors" that would allow stand-off as well as close-in ISR, Otto added. "The question that I would have is 'what gap would it fill that is not currently being filled?'" The company anticipates TR-X replacing the U-2 and Global Hawk fleets by roughly 2025, though Otto said both aircraft could last "much longer" if needed. "So, what would cause us to do the upgrade? ​We'd have to see," said Otto.