Air Force, Northrop upgrade B-2 with EHF satcom subsystem

The Air Force recently awarded Northrop Grumman a $108 million low-rate, initial production contract to outfit the service's fleet of B-2 bombers with new high-speed processing subsystems, the company said Oct. 11.

The upgrades are being carried out through the Air Force's B-2 extremely high frequency (EHF) satellite communications program, a company announcement said.

The new hardware and software, which includes an integrated processing unit, a high-capacity disk drive, and a network of fiber optic cable, will enable the stealth aircraft to perform advanced communications and weapons delivery missions in the future, the announcement said.

The EHF Increment 1 hardware and software succesfully completed a series of operational tests conducted by the Air Force in late July, company officials said. Northrop Grumman is also beginning to install the new subsystems in a limited number of aircraft as part of the current EHF Increment 1 system development and demonstration contract.

The new EHF Increment 1 hardware kits include an ingrated processing unit that will replace up to a dozen stand-alone avionics computers on the B-2, a disk drive unit that enable transfer of EHF data onto and off of the B-2 and a network of fiber optic cable that will support the high-speed data transfers within the aircraft.

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