Comm upgrade begins on Navy airborne command post

The first of the Naval Air Systems Command's 15 E-6B Mercury Aircraft has been sent to Boeing Aerospace Support Center in Cecil Field, Fla., to be outfitted with an advanced communications system and new cockpit.

The E-6B, a Boeing 707-size airborne command post for U.S. strategic forces, provides command, control and communications links between the president, Defense secretary and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The aircraft receives and transmits secure and nonsecure voice and data message traffic on several frequency spectrums, according to a NAVAIR release.

The communications upgrade includes a secure IP router network and a nonsecure IP network, two separate onboard servers for classified and unclassified access to servers on the ground via LAN communications links, and a Ku-band uplink for satellite communications.

The aircraft modifications will be completed in August. All other E-6Bs will be upgraded with the communications package by December 2005.

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