B-2 bomber to get satcom upgrade

The Air Force has tasked Northrop Grumman Corp. with developing a new, extremely high-frequency satellite communications system for its B-2 stealth bomber under a 62-month, $171 million system development and demonstration contract.

Under an upgrade program, the new satellite system eventually will allow the B-2 to send and receive battlefield information up to 100 times faster than its current ultra-high frequency satellite communications system.

The authority to proceed with the system development phase follows the Air Force's decision in February authorizing Northrop Grumman to proceed with this first increment of the satellite upgrade program.

During the first increment of the project, the Northrop Grumman-led team will replace the B-2's current flight management computers with a single, integrated processing unit developed by Lockheed Martin Systems Integration.

The team also will develop a fiber optic network that supports high-speed data transfers to, from and within the aircraft.

The B-2 is a long-range, multipurpose bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. The bomber's stealth characteristics make it difficult for enemy radar to detect, thus making it possible to penetrate even the most heavily defended targets. Northrop Grumman is the Air Force's prime contractor for the B-2.

Doug Beizer writes for Washington Technology, an 1105 Government Information Group publication.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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