WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Aviation communications company Rockwell Collins will modernize and upgrade U.S. Navy airborne strategic command systems in a $295 million deal that includes work on aircraft involved with the operations.
Rockwell Collins announced the contract from its Cedar Rapids, Iowa, headquarters, where the company has been based since Arthur Collins founded it in 1933.
At the center of the modernization program are the Navy's E-6B aircraft that form the military's flying command post.
The award includes a $54 million full-rate production contract, with unexercised options valued at an additional $241 million, to upgrade 11 aircraft as part of the Navy's E-6B Block I Modification program.
The E-6B aircraft is used to conduct the "Take Charge and Move Out" mission, also known as TACAMO, and the U.S. Strategic Command Airborne Command Post missions.
The open system solution provided by the Block I modification addresses immediate modernization requirements and enables system expansion in the future.
The initial $54 million award covers the procurement of the material, installation and associated activities for the next three aircraft. The total program includes production engineering support, field service support, operator and maintenance crew training classes and maintenance trainer updates.
The company indicated the upgrade will boost the Navy's performance in different ways.
Dave Nieuwsma, vice president and general manager of airborne solutions for Rockwell Collins said, "This upgrade brings many new capabilities to the Navy, including better communication and mission capabilities."
Modernization will also play a key role "in providing reliable and survivable communications" between U.S. leadership and strategic forces.
"This award is especially meaningful to Rockwell Collins as it signifies the continuation of a 40-year relationship supporting the Navy TACAMO mission."
The Block I Modification being completed by Rockwell Collins features an open system approach for mission avionics, a Voice over Internet Protocol Intercommunications System and an on-aircraft, multi-level secure network for message processing, radio control/monitoring and other mission applications, the company says.
The program also improves the reliability and availability of the Ultra High Frequency Command, Control and Communication system and enhances the electrical power and cooling systems.
The Block I Modification solution modernizes the aircraft's communication infrastructure to support moving data onto, off and throughout the aircraft.
"This infrastructure will support the ever increasing bandwidth demands in this emerging age of the digital battlespace," Rockwell Collins says.
A schedule for the work to be undertaken was not discussed in the announcement.
The company has a service and support network spanning 27 countries and 19,000 people worldwide.