The upgrade -- called Common Very Low Frequency Receiver Increment 1 -- involves replacement of the aircraft's ultra-high frequency communications system with a capability that uses Very Low Frequency signals bounced off of lower levels of the atmosphere for receipt of Presidential Force Direction messages.
The current CVR system would receive such message via MILSTAR satellites, which are approaching the end of their operational life.
The upgrade will ensure the B-2 remains a viable nuclear platform until such time as a replacement for current satellite communications can be deployed.
"CVR Increment 1 will provide the B-2 aircrew another, more reliable means to receive presidential force direction via emergency action messages," said Gary Doolittle, Air Force Global Strike Command B-2 requirements. "Increment 2 (under development) would provide a broader set of longer-term capability upgrades across the entire airborne nuclear command, control, and communications fleet."
The CVR Increment 1 upgrade program was to begin 20 years ago but was sidelined by budget constraints, the Air Force said.
Engineering and manufacturing development for the initial upgrade has been approved and awards will be given for the system's engineering, manufacturing and development.