Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works advanced projects division recently demonstrated the ability of a U-2S Dragon Lady spy plane to remotely use computers on the ground to help process data from onboard sensors and other systems in flight. The U-2S did this by leveraging a system that Skunk Works and the U.S. Air Force recently used to show how these aircraft, as well as others, will be able to receive updates for their mission computers, including new code to add previously unavailable functionality, in mid-air in the future.
This “distributed processing” flight test took place in November, according to Skunk Works. The U-2S involved was able to establish a link to “a ground node” via a computer cloud, through which it was able to better disseminate sensor information. Doing this allowed the aircraft to make use of additional computer processing power offboard the aircraft.