U-2 Federal Lab flies with Kubernetes


The U-2 Federal Laboratory successfully achieved to fly with Kubernetes on an operational major weapon system in the U.S. Department of Defence for the first time ever.

Kubernetes is a portable, extensible, open-source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. It possesses a large, rapidly growing ecosystem and can orchestrate computing, networking, and storage on behalf of user workloads as well as allowing the deployment of complex microservice-based applications with complete automation.

With this advancement, Kubernetes will enable military weapon systems to unite on-board computing power in order to adapt to new systems and software needs. Four flight-certified computers were brought aboard the aircraft to strengthen the influence of Kubernetes to run advanced machine learning algorithms and to avoid negative impacts on the flight or mission systems.

This marks an important milestone for the development of software containerization on existing Air Force weapon systems. This achievement will certainly lead the way for more experimentations and the integration of Kubernetes onto the U-2 will allow to profit from the aircraft’s high-altitude line of sight and make it more survivable in a contested environment.

The U-2 Federal Lab, which promotes ‘edge development’, a concept to develop new software integration on operational systems in a bounded, safe environment, aims to improve the power of digital engineering and agile software development to accelerate the evolution of the technical stack. By doing so, it wants to enable the unique delivery of capabilities by decreasing the time to field advanced technologies at a speed relevant to warfighters.

The future will depend on new fully leveraging leading-edge digital technology. By using successfully Kubernetes during a flight on a major weapon system as the U-2 will help to have access to real-time data whenever needed.